New paper published!  Water security consequences of the Russia-Ukraine war and the post-war outlook

Water is a fundamental and irreplaceable resource for life on Earth. In this new paper, we show the consequences of water security. The Biogas Research Team is continuously mapping the situation and outlining roadmaps for the post-war recovery period.

The Russia-Ukraine war, which began in February 2022 and persists in 2024, has significantly damaged Ukraine’s water resources and infrastructure. This paper examines the ecological and economic consequences of the conflict on water bodies and outlines prospects for post-war recovery in the context of sustainable development.

Ecological and Economic Consequences

Russian forces have devastated approximately one-third of Ukraine’s freshwater storage, leading to severe disruptions in potable, industrial, and irrigation water supplies, particularly in the south and east of the country. The destruction of water infrastructure has resulted in the loss of crucial ecosystem services provided by water resources, including water supply for communities, irrigation for agriculture, and fishing for livelihoods and recreation.

Assessing Damages

The war’s social, economic, and ecological damages are estimated to be in the tens of billions of US dollars. Additionally, Ukraine faces significant losses in economic potential, with necessary investments in restoration reaching up to $600 billion. The disruption of irrigation systems has impacted the eco-economic efficiency of irrigated crops. At the same time, damage to commercial and recreational fisheries has led to losses of littoral areas and spawning grounds.

Pathways to Recovery

Alternative solutions, such as constructing wells to tap groundwater, are being explored and justified to address the water supply challenges in war-torn regions. Furthermore, various scientific opinions and approaches to ecosystem management are being considered to facilitate the future reconstruction of critical water infrastructure, such as the Kakhovka Reservoir.

Strategic Development for Water Security

Looking ahead, strategic development options for the water sector are essential to ensure water security during the post-war reconstruction phase. These efforts may include investments in resilient infrastructure, implementing sustainable water management practices, and promoting international cooperation to address transboundary water challenges.

Conclusion

The water security consequences of the Russia-Ukraine war underscore the urgent need for comprehensive strategies to mitigate ecological and economic impacts and ensure the sustainable development of water resources. By prioritizing investments in water infrastructure and adopting adaptive management approaches, Ukraine can work towards restoring its water security and resilience in the aftermath of conflict.

Citation: Hapich, H., Novitskyi, R., Onopriienko, D., Dent, D., & Roubik, H. (2024). Water security consequences of the Russia-Ukraine war and the post-war outlook. Water Security, 21, 100167. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wasec.2024.100167

Author: Hynek Roubík from BRT.

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