Nicola Davey l Palladium - Aug 09 2023
Responding to the Kakhovka Dam Collapse

On 6 June, the Kakhovka dam in Nova Kakhovka, Ukraine was destroyed, causing flooding in Oleshky, Kardashinka, Gola Prystan, and other villages along the left bank of the Dnipro River. On Wednesday, June 7, the floodwaters reached Kherson city, forcing residents to abandon their homes, leaving dozens of people missing, and flooding more than 3,000 homes.

Following the dam collapse, the Procurement and Logistics team within Palladium’s Humanitarian and Stabilisation Operations Team (HSOT) were tasked by the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) with exploring the provision of specialist technical equipment to Ukraine’s State Emergency Services to assist with the flood response.

HSOT moved quickly to identify and source suitable equipment from a wide-ranging list of urgent items requested by the State Emergency Services. “We often get asked to scope for specialist capabilities and specifying the most appropriate equipment can be quite challenging,” explains HSOT’s Technical Advisor Stuart Kinsey. “The key to providing the most effective support is to ask the right questions, understand the context, and with our broad spectrum of experience, deliver speedy assistance.”

Within a day of getting the tasking order, four specialist boats and six bespoke water filters were collected from the FCDO Disaster Response Centre in Kemble, UK, including life jackets, radios, GPS, and a variety of other items required for the boats to be utilised effectively in search and rescue missions. Having completed almost 120 direct deliveries into Ukraine since the start of the conflict, HSOT took advantage of a well-established supply chain, delivering the first package of boats and water filters on 13 June within four days of collection from the UK.

Engaging a Global Network

To maximise speed and efficiency, the team drew upon Palladium’s global network by asking former HSOT member Jurgita Vasilevskyte to inspect an aluminium boat the team identified in the Netherlands the day after tasking. Following a successful inspection that found the boat was an appropriate specification, a contract was agreed that day with the supplier to purchase the boat.

Over the course of the 5-week response, the team sourced a wide variety of items, identifying over 380 different types of potential equipment to send to Ukraine from 115 new suppliers. Within a week, over 1,000 waders, 200 wastewater pumps, and seven inflatable boats had been collected for delivery to Ukraine for the flood response.

The team also developed whole packages of equipment, so that no additional items would be required for the equipment to function. For example, the pumps purchased to remove floodwater were each provided with the required lengths of hose to operate efficiently. The pumps are powerful and can remove floodwater quickly - the pumps delivered can remove the equivalent of 80 Olympic swimming pools of water per day.

Sustainable Solutions for the Long Term

As the flood waters receded, the team were asked to investigate options for providing drinking water to communities, as the collapse of the dam had rendered water supplies unsafe. Through a long-term framework supplier, the team identified five 26-28,000 litre tankers. The tankers are insulated to prevent the drinking water from freezing during the harsh Ukrainian winter, ensuring that they would be useful throughout the year in case they were needed for other scenarios. The tankers were provided with tap stands after a thorough inspection to make it easier for communities to collect the water.

“HSOT have previous experience of providing water rescue and flood response capabilities, alongside sourcing specialist equipment at very short notice,” says Supply Chain Operations Manager, Alex Franklin. “By liaising closely with FCDO and Ukraine’s State Emergency Services we understood what equipment was needed, and in turn we leveraged our supplier network alongside our internal capabilities and expertise to quickly deliver essential and quality approved equipment to our colleagues in Ukraine.”

The UK aid-funded Humanitarian and Stabilisation Operations Team (HSOT) provides the UK government with capacity and specialist expertise to support effective responses to sudden-onset disasters, crises, and complex emergencies around the world. HSOT is funded by UK aid from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and managed by Palladium. Contact for more information.