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DRC Ukraine: Needs for Explosive Ordnance Risk Education grow by the day

As the war in Ukraine rages on, active fighting leaves behind thousands of Explosive Ordnance that pose threat to civilians’ lives and livelihoods. Millions of Ukrainians are in need of knowledge and awareness to help them navigate on land that is poised with effects from ammunition and weapons – much of it unexploded – littered in cities, on farmland and along roads.

Luhansk Oblast, DRC Ukraine

Posted on 27 Jul 2022

Written by Volodymyr Malynka

"There is a huge rocket shell in my garden. Let me show you," says Viktor (name changed) during a DRC survey visit to villages in the outskirts of Bucha in Kyiv Oblast. After several months of fighting, DRC humanitarian mine action experts hear many of such stories across Ukraine. 

Even before the escalation of the conflict on 24 February 2022, Ukraine was among the Top-5 countries globally with the highest contamination of territory with Explosive Ordnance according to Land Mine Monitor reports.

Earlier on, it was mainly a problem in the east of Ukraine on in the regions bordering the Russian Federation. Today, after several months of active fighting and use of massive amounts of ammunition by the belligerent forces, the problem has multiplied.  

For many people in Ukraine, this is the first time they have seen real mines and other Explosive Ordnance in person, and the risk of unsafe behaviour around these new dangers is high. DRC has been involved in mine action awareness campaigns and risk education for years in Ukraine, but the recent developments have intensified these needs and made them necessary throughout the country. 

DRC campaigns warn of risk 

Explosive Ordnance Risk Education is one of the main pillars of DRC’s Humanitarian Mine Action, and is now being scaled up with efforts supported by several international donors. This enables DRC to support Ukrainian authorities in mapping and understanding the level of contamination and needs for risk education. DRC is now scaling up and giving special attention to enhance mine action support, including risk awareness among its other emergency response activities.  

Since the escalation of the conflict began, DRC has already conducted several digital social media campaigns to promote safer behaviour. Currently, it is critical that people in Ukraine know the basic rules in case they see any ammunition — do not approach, do not touch, and call 101 (the phone number of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine).  

Mapping needs for awareness raising 

To better inform people about such risks, DRC conducted a rapid needs assessment with over 1,500 participants between April and May 2022 enabled by financial support from the European Union. The focus was on new types of threats from Explosive Ordnance, the most conflict-affected people, and the channels of communication most trusted for safety information by the respondents.

Click on image below to enlarge infographic and open it in a new tab or window: 

Click to enlarge infographic about need for Explosive Ordnance Risk Education

Key conclusions and recommendations

Among the key conclusions and recommendations:

  • Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE) mass media campaigns should be intensified to raise awareness among local populations on the threats from EO and the new contamination. 
  • Most respondents understand the dangers of EO, but there is a certain percentage of those who consider their territories safe when they are evidently not — so it is advisable to include explanatory materials in EORE messaging. 
  • The percentage of those who have faced EO directly depends on the intensity of fighting in the region and is a variable. Over time, it will grow in certain areas. It is advisable to conduct additional Knowledge, Attitudes, Behaviour, and Practices (KABP) surveys in such areas before the start of EORE programming. 
  • The needs assessment showed that people mostly obtain information from official channels and from trusted government officials. Accordingly, EORE should be coordinated with and promoted through such bodies. 
  • Social networks and messengers are the best channels of communication with the audience. The absolute leader is Facebook and Messenger as well as Viber and Telegram messengers. 

Read more in the full report, access DRC Risk Education materials online via Stopmina (Ukrainian and Russian) and keep an eye on campaigns promoted across media including the DRC Ukraine Facebook page.

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