A year of safe drinking water in Mykolaiv
Olga* arrives every day at one of IsraAID’s water distribution centers inside a kindergarten in the Ukrainian port city of Mykolaiv. She fills one six-liter bottle. Olga uses the water to drink, bathe, and cook.
Olga is elderly. She can only carry one six-liter bottle by herself. Ever since her grandson was taken hostage in the siege of Mariupol, she has lived alone. She has no one to help her. Olga says she is grateful that the water station is located so close to her house. “I used to go over there,” she says, waving towards another part of the city. She explained that the walk was long. “But it’s so much easier now that the station is in the building right next to mine.”
IsraAID began working in Mykolaiv one year ago, in August 2022. In April of that year, a Russian attack on the Kherson region severed the pipes that supplied the entire city with drinkable water. Mykolaiv is a southern port city located on the Black Sea, about 50 km east of Odesa. After the water source to the city was disrupted, the municipality began pumping what we call ‘technical water’ from the nearby estuary. The water is partially salty, meaning that it couldn’t be used for most purposes.
In partnership with MASHAV and the municipality, IsraAID brought four reverse osmosis water filtration systems. These machines filter salty and contaminated water, converting it into water that is safe to drink and use for all other purposes. Since August 2022, IsraAID has expanded its water program in the city. Today, we operate 12 water distribution points, making safe water accessible to hundreds of thousands of residents.
Last month, IsraAID conducted a quality and service evaluation at all of our water points in the city. Our team spoke with residents, heard their stories, and learned about the impact this program has had on them and their families.
At our water distribution point at the Korabelny District Administration, we met a young mother, Anna*. She explained that she comes to the water point multiple times a day. Anna recently gave birth to a daughter and fears bathing her baby in the water that comes from the taps. She doesn’t know if it is safe. Beyond drinking and cooking, the water she gets from the distribution point gives her the confidence to bathe her daughter without worrying.
At another distribution point, we met a couple, Maria* and Ivan*, who arrive daily with dozens of bottles. They explained that they aren’t only gathering water for themselves. Every day they load up the car with all their bottles and then distribute the water to people who cannot get water for themselves. They explained that they deliver water to elderly family members. One of their friends recently broke her leg, so they bring her water daily as well.
Over the last year, IsraAID worked to expand access to drinking water across the city. We work hand-in-hand with the municipality. IsraAID ensures that they have the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to properly maintain the reverse-osmosis systems and ensure access to as many residents as possible. Last month, after a Russian missile strike on Mykolaiv damaged one of our water points, our water engineers were on site to repair and restore the system to full functioning.
To date, IsraAID has provided millions of liters of safe drinking water to the city’s residents. We will continue to improve and expand our program as long as we’re needed. Our water program in Mykolaiv is just one way we support vulnerable and displaced Ukrainians amid the ongoing conflict. To learn more and stay up to date on all our programs in Ukraine, follow IsraAID on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.