Dam burst near Kakhovka, Kherson

The destruction of the Ukrainian dam on June 6, 2023, near the Russian-occupied southern village of Kakhovka has far-reaching consequences for the region, the extent of which cannot yet be assessed. The dam is part of a series of six dams along the Dnieper River and the last before opening into the Black Sea. The dam produced electricity, cooled the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, and provided water for local people.

The destruction caused the floods to reach the city of Kherson, which is located on the delta of the Dnieper River and about 100 kilometers away from the destroyed infrastructure. A total of 24 localities have been affected by the floods. So far, about 3000 people could be evacuated on both sides of the front. Currently, it is roughly estimated that on the right bank of the river, which is controlled by Ukraine, 40,000 people are affected by the floods, while in the Russian-occupied territories on the other side 25,000.

The floods have already caused great damage to the population, infrastructure, nature and animals. The potential consequences from the destruction of the dam will continue to increase. Dropping the water level in the Kakhovksa reservoir to a certain level may mean water shortages for 200,000 people. The laying out of mines along the river may mean that they will now be newly washed into places not expected. Fecal matter or chemicals from factories entering the water can cause epidemics or diseases. Oil was stored in the dam’s power plant, which has now also entered the water, and many fishes have already died from the contaminated water. In addition, habitats of animals such as birds are destroyed. The consequences of the dam burst are therefore manifold, extensive and will unfortunately shape the region for a long time.

While the EU and European countries have already pledged support worth 170 million, about 800 rescuers inside Ukraine and volunteers are providing assistance on the ground. Green Cross Switzerland has been active in Ukraine since 2022 with pragmatic relief actions for the population. In addition to providing water treatment systems to those affected, e.g. in Kherson or Mikolayev, and other assistance, we have supported rescuers of the State Service for Emergency Situations after floods during the spring in the north of Ukraine with a boat engine. Green Cross Switzerland is currently reviewing the possibilities for further assistance to the population affected by the floods in the region around the destroyed reservoir.

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