Nicky Blackburn
June 8, 2023

Israeli humanitarian aid organization, IsraAID has launched an emergency response to Ukrainians left homeless after a critical dam was destroyed, causing major flooding over a massive area.

The destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam and hydraulic power plant on Tuesday morning threatens a humanitarian and ecological disaster in  Ukraine’s south and has disrupted access to drinking water and electricity across the region. 

On Wednesday, IsraAID, which has been providing aid to Ukraine since February 26, 2022, two days after Russia invaded, sent an initial relief team to the region to conduct an in-depth needs assessment, and to hold first aid training for community members. 

The team initially focused on the region of Mykolaiv Oblast, where some 16,000 Ukrainians have been evacuated from communities on the Ukrainian-controlled western bank of the Dnipro. As many as 42,000 are threatened with flooding. 

Aside from providing urgently needed medical support, IsraAID will also be handing out hygiene supplies, blankets and medications, while working to establish psychosocial support programs and clean water solutions.

Israeli NGO sends aid after catastrophic dam explosion
Over 16,000 people have already been displaced and some 42,000 are expected to be affected by the dam burst. IsraAID volunteers train Ukrainians in first-aid response. Photo courtesy of IsraAID

It has also sent a truckload of supplies to the Kherson region, including a shipment of medical supplies to one of the city hospitals. The rest of the shipment contained clothing, food, medical supplies, hygiene supplies, and more. 

“The Kakhovka dam explosion is an enormous ecological disaster that threatens food supplies, water access and so much more in Southern Ukraine,” said Yotam Polizer, the CEO of IsraAID.

“We don’t yet know the full scale of the damage, but it’s clear that this is a major emergency amid the protracted emergency context of the Ukraine war.” 

Located on the Dnipro River in the Kherson region, near the front line between Ukrainian and Russian troops, the destruction of the dam has caused major flooding, damaging homes, threatening wildlife, and clean water supplies. 

Rising water levels have left entire towns underwater and raised fears of contamination, chemical and oil leaks, threats to water and food supplies, and dislodged landmines. Some 80 municipalities are expected to be affected by the floods.

Upstream, the dam’s destruction is dropping water levels in the Kakhovka reservoir, a major source of drinking water for the region.

Since IsraAID first arrived in Ukraine, the organization has reached over 35 cities across the war-torn country, and has offices in Kyiv, Odesa, Romania and Moldova. 

IsraAID began working in Mykolaiv in August 2022, after the city’s drinking water supply was cut off by a Russian attack on Kherson. It installed 12 reverse osmosis water filtration systems throughout the city, and restored access to safe drinking water for hundreds of thousands of Mykolaiv residents.

It was also one of the first international NGOs to reach the Kherson region after it was liberated from Russian forces in November 2022 and has been providing urgently needed aid, winter clothing, generators, medical equipment, and medications. 

The organization plans to continue supporting Ukraine for at least five years, according to the NGO. 

“IsraAID’s response is part of our ongoing commitment to the Ukrainian communities that are bearing the brunt of this conflict,” said Polizer. 

“We’re glad to be able to respond quickly and provide urgently needed support right away. We will continue assessing the situation and adapting our response to meet the needs of the most vulnerable communities.”

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