Capacity building for water management at local level in selected regions of Ukraine

Ukraine is facing major challenges in the management of its rivers. The two selected project regions, the Ternopil region in the north-west of Ukraine and the Odessa region on the edge of the Black Sea, are characterized by hot summers with low rainfall. As a result, small rivers in particular suffer from considerable water deficits and are often on the verge of ecological collapse due to anthropogenic change.

The Association Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine from 2014 also covers the area of water management and provides for a gradual approximation to the requirements of the European Water Framework Directive (WFD). A law to implement the EU Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) was passed in October 2016. The establishment of water management councils has been mandatory since February 17, 2017. However, Ukraine is still at the beginning of the process of setting up water management councils for the major river basins. The management of small river basin districts has not been taken into account to date and there is currently no national strategy for implementing the water legislation requirements at local authority level. They in particular face an immense challenge when it comes to implementing the complex water law requirements in practice: both the implementation of the legal material and the large number of preparatory activities – such as data collection – are difficult to realize without external support.

The project therefore aims to strengthen local authorities and civil society in water management in the long term and, with these multipliers, to contribute to a long-term environmental relief effect in Ukraine. To this end, results and experiences from the project “Capacity building for water management at local level in the Republic of Moldova” will be transferred to Ukraine and adapted to the specific conditions of the project regions. The main aim of the project is to support the local authorities in implementing the water legislation requirements through capacity building. The exchange with experts from Germany from the administration as well as from national environmental NGOs and experts from the Republic of Moldova is intended to strengthen transnational cooperation and learn from experience already gained in the implementation of the WFD.

The first focus of the project is the creation of a comprehensive guideline on the management of small river basin districts in the target regions of Ukraine. The guidelines will include the following points: 1) Basics of water management and initial situation in Ukraine, 2) Concrete recommendations for the management of small river basin districts in the target regions of Ukraine, 3) Overview and summary of legal responsibilities, and 4) Best practice examples from Ukraine. The second focus of the project is a series of events and a handout on biological engineering measures for watercourses. The need for this project focus crystallized during the first project workshops, when in particular river maintenance and bioengineering construction methods as a tool for this were the subject of many requests. Together with experts from Germany, online and on-site seminars in Ukraine on bioengineering construction methods and materials, as well as application-oriented planting workshops on bank protection using bioengineering construction methods in watercourse maintenance are being realized in addition to the handout.