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Young mothers bring safe water to Ukraine

Page history last edited by Rosemary 12 years, 8 months ago

Young mothers bring safe water to Ukraine: MAMA-86

In Ukraine, water resources are limited and unequally distributed, many water sources are polluted by industrial development, and more than 800,000 people must buy water on the retail market. In some areas, water-borne diseases and nitrate poisoning (blue-baby syndrome) run rampant.

In 1991, following the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, a group of young mothers established MAMA-86 as a Kyiv city public organization. Today, MAMA-86 is a national environmental NGO network of 17 organizations from various regions of Ukraine and an active partner in Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF).

MAMA-86 kicked off the Drinking Water in Ukraine campaign in 1997, together with 11 organizations from its network, to improve access to safe and affordable drinking water through public awareness, participation in decision-making, and development of pilot projects. To address a lack of information disclosure, MAMA-86 began carrying out regular data-gathering and independent research on drinking-water quality, and presented the results locally, nationally and internationally.

Broad public consultation led to efforts to advance public participation in lawmaking. MAMA-86 prepared a list of public amendments to the draft drinking water act based on the discussions, and concerted lobbying convinced Parliament to consider a third of the proposals. The Drinking Water and Water Supply Act of Ukraine, passed in 2002, grants citizens better access to information on drinking water issues and the right to organize public hearings on water-related issues. Subsequent public hearings have delved into local water reforms, tariff reforms, consumer rights and drinking-water quality.

The MAMA-86 network has raised funds to follow up ideas that emerge from public consultations The first pilot projects involved developing a community-based water purification project, treating wastewater from the Infectious Diseases Hospital, and repairing water supply, sewerage and heating systems. Since 2001, MAMA-86 has implemented 11 pilot projects fostering public involvement in sustainable solutions through partnerships between the authorities, the public, science and business.

One pilot project begun in 2002, for example, seeks to resolve severe pollution of local wells used by over 11 million people in rural areas. Many have never been cleaned due to a lack of public information about maintenance, limited funds and services for cleaning. MAMA-86 established well-cleaning services in Yaremche and in Nizhyn, supplied pumping equipment and enlisted private firms to provide services in outlying areas. The project itself cleaned 25 collective wells.

Another initiative focuses on children’s morbidity rates from gastrointestinal diseases and cancer in Poltava oblast, where the figures rank very high. MAMA-86 launched a broad public information and education campaign on nitrate contamination in 2001. A partnership with local authorities and businesses in the village of Pesky rehabilitated old artesian wells and added a water purification system, allowing more than 4,500 people in Pesky and some nearby settlements to drink clean water.

In November 2003, MAMA-86, in partnership with WECF, started a new Matra (social transformation program run by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands) project on cooperation for sustainable rural development with a focus on water supply, eco-sanitation and organic agriculture. The goal is to protect drinking-water sources in rural areas through new approaches such as ecosanitation and organic agriculture, to raise public awareness, and to develop pilot projects run by local communities.

This story is summarized and adapted from a story written by Anna Tsvetkova of MAMA-86 and told in "Women and Water Management: An Integrated Approach", published by the UN Environment Program in 2004.  For more information about MAMA 86, see their website or email. Email addresses for local MAMA 86 branches in Ukraine.


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