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Water supply and sanitation as a key to sustainability of rural areas in Ukraine

Congress: 2008
Abstract Key words: rural areas, sustainability, water utilities, sanitation Discussed at the paper are issues of sustainable development of rural areas of Ukraine where the share of rural population in Ukraine makes more than 32 % (2002) and in this areas predicament of the water and sanitation sector is even more alarming than in urban areas. Rural water systems have been deteriorating much faster than those in urban areas, largely due to the fact that no-one has taken over control of maintenance and operation of these systems since collective and state farms – which previously had this responsibility – were dismantled at the beginning of the 1990s. As a result more then 70 of rural water supply systems and sanitation systems are either in need of capital repairs or need to be reconstructed. The level of access to what the UN defines as “improved” sources of water supply and sanitation in rural areas of Ukraine officially makes up about 97% but that figure is very misleading and is based on the Soviet time statistics when it was more or less true to life. However, current estimates do not take into account operation capability of the existing water supply and sanitation system. Many of them exist on paper, especially sanitation systems, their efficiency is very low. Water losses and discharges of untreated sewage into water bodies are alarmingly high. So, system water losses often reach 50-60 %. Continuity of water supply in rural areas is just 4–6 hours per day. Water quality is below health standards and leads to outbreaks of diseases .Situation in water sector of rural areas, combined with failure of efficient operation of other utility services, e.g. electric power supply, natural gas and fuel oil supply aggravated by unaffordable prices for impoverished rural population resulting in loss of a capacity for sustainable development of the majority off rural areas of Ukraine and as a result uncontrolled migration of people to large cities, abandonment of agricultural lands, neglect and degradation of natural environment, social stability and livability of the rural area. Probably, the most serious challenge for the country is to find the way to reverse this trend, to develop mechanisms which would facilitate revival of rural life to reasonable standards. Current approaches and policy in respect to facilitation of sustainable development of rural areas of Ukraine are also to be reviewed at the paper.
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