The war in Ukraine has been ongoing for over a year now. This conflict has claimed many lives, torn families apart, and destroyed cities and infrastructure.
It raises the question: What are the less obvious problems arising from this war?
For our work, we wanted to use the most trustworthy sources possible. What could be more suitable than people who are from Ukraine and have experienced the events since the outbreak of the war? All interviewees agreed that the most significant problems are in the areas of waste disposal, as well as water supply and electricity.
Our interview partners
Here are the three interview partners we interviewed for our project.
The first interviewee is Marta. She is 24 years old and currently lives in Wald. Originally Marta comes from Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv. In Switzerland, she works as a waitress. She left Ukraine at the very beginning of the war, leaving behind her fiancee and most of her family and friends. After staying at a temporary home in Poland she was finally able to come to Switzerland.
The second interviewee is Nastya. She is also from Wald and is 31 years old. Marta and Nastya are sisters, they fled from Ukraine together. She lived in Rivne and now works as a waitress and nanny in Switzerland. She is the mother of a small child. For her, it was especially difficult leaving behind her husband, the father of her son.
The third and last interviewee is Mykola. He is 18 years old and lives in Horgen. In Ukraine, he lived in Odesa and came to Switzerland with his mother and brother. As well as the others his father had to stay in Ukraine to fight against the Russians. He goes to school where he learns german and in his free time he plays volleyball.
Fun fact: he got a German B2 certificate within 6 months.
The conflict in Ukraine has severely impacted the waste management system and led to a significant increase in waste volumes. This ongoing disruption has made it increasingly difficult to manage and mitigate growing waste disposal problems. As a result, illegal waste disposal practices such as dumping waste in rivers and forests have emerged due to limited access to adequate waste disposal infrastructure. This illegal disposal poses serious environmental risks, including water and soil pollution that endangers human health and disrupts ecosystems.
The conflict in Ukraine has meant that the waste disposal system in Ukraine can no longer function as usual. Even though the waste disposal system is not nearly as good as the one in Switzerland, there is still a big difference.
The situation in Ukraine has never been as good as in Switzerland. And now with the ongoing war its even worse. – Nastya
Waste disposal was not the best before the war, but has certainly gotten way worse during the war. – Marta
This leads to a buildup of waste, and the longer this continues, the more difficult it becomes to catch up. Another effect is that in certain cases waste is disposed of illegally. This leads to risks to health and nature.
People often dispose of their waste in forests or dump it in water bodies. – Nastya
Another enormous problem in Ukraine is the water supply. The attack on the infrastructure hit, among other things, sewage treatment plants and the general water network. As a result, many households no longer had running or clean water.
Probably the biggest problem is electricity. Especially in the winter months, there were often power outages. This led to various problems. It was not possible to heat in the cold months, as soon as the sun went down you were sitting in the dark, unless you had a battery-operated light source. The power cuts also meant that sometimes people were unable to contact their loved ones for days on end. The economic situation also suffered from power problems. For example, in factories and other institutions, having a regular working day was impossible.
During the winter months there were often blackouts. That means the people could not heat their homes and also had difficulties when it came to cooking. – Marta
Different views became clear from the interviewees’ responses. Marta thinks that after the horrible war crimes in Bucha and Irpin were exposed, the media coverage has been relatively good. However she would like if the war was more talked about. Nastya thinks the reporting could be better, but she is grateful for all the media that accurately report on what is happening in her country.
Unfortunately some media coverage is not so good in my opinion. But I am thankful for the media outlets, which provide true information about the ongoing war and what Russia is doing to our country and our people. – Nasty
There is no denying that life in Ukraine became more difficult due to the war. The civilian population, as well as the environment, is faced with new problems. From the information gathered it is clear that the biggest problem is the power supply. When the power goes out again, a whole series of things do not work. The other war-related problems do not have such an extreme domino effect. Marta, Nastya, Mykola and the other Ukrainian refugees are to be admired for their strength. They packed up their belongings and started the journey into the unknown.
We are very happy to have had the chance to do such a project. It was very exciting to talk to our interview partners about their lives and experiences. It was an incredible learning experience to work with Ukrainian refugees on this project. We will be able to take a lot of what we learned into the professional world. We certainly didn’t get everything right, but we tried our hardest to create an attractive final product that would inspire the readers to question the situation in Ukraine. We are very pleased that our work is now paying off and that we are able to publish our project. We look forward to your comments and reviews.
by Pascal Frischmuth & Marina Burkhard
Our work is based on our own knowledge and on the findings of the three interviews.
Before we started with the interviews, we looked into the topic intensively. The following links might help you to find out more about this interesting topic:
Krieg gegen die Umwelt [zdf.de]
Welche Folgen hat der Krieg für das Klima? [tagesschau.de]