‘Our work restoring Ukraine’s critical infrastructure yields tangible results’

Since the European Union and Nefco launched a EUR 50 million initiative in December 2022, substantial strides have been made in reconstructing key municipal systems and advancing a long-term green recovery in the Kyiv region and beyond. “Over 80% of planned procurements have been initiated, with most contracts awarded, marking the start of project implementation,” says Ronny Nilsson, Senior Adviser at Nefco, who has managed the programme from its inception.

Читати історію українською мовою

  • Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has severely damaged the country’s critical infrastructure, causing major disruptions to essential services. As a result, the repair and reconstruction of this infrastructure has become an urgent priority.
  • Nefco finances and supports the adoption of high standard technologies and ensures the green aspect in all critical infrastructure projects in Ukraine. Making use of Nefco’s unique existing capacity and outreach ensures rapid and transparent implementation and environmentally positive impacts.

The communities of Irpin, Slavutych, Borshahivka, Borodyanka, Nemishayeve, Ivankiv, Dymer, Dmytrivka, Velyka Dymerka, Kalynivka, Hostomel, and Piskivka—once heavily damaged and temporarily occupied during the early stages of the war—are now back under Ukrainian control. Approximately 245,000 Ukrainians are expected to benefit from the implemented projects.

Contributing to the progress of the critical infrastructure programme are Nefco team members, all adept at carrying out a range of tasks and proficient in managing multiple projects. Alongside Ronny are Iryna Fedorenko and Anna Minakova, who are based in Nefco’s headquarters in Helsinki. Alexey Dumik, Serghiy Zbrokh, and Laryssa Pekarska are in Ukraine. They discuss their roles and the impact the programme and their work create. 

Several small communities are benefitting from the installation of new water and wastewater treatment facilities because of our efforts, which are particularly significant today.

Serghiy Zbrokh, Technical Adviser

Investment Advisor Iryna Fedorenko describes the process in which she coordinates activities with consultants, facilitates implementation, and ensures adherence to grant agreements and contracts. “After the agreement with the donor is signed, Nefco procures a consultant to support the Project Implementation Units (PIU) in each community involved in the repair and recovery programme. The PIU support consultant finalises the project scoping, prepares tender documents and assists the project beneficiaries in tender evaluation and drafting contracts upon completion of the evaluation.” Iryna oversees this process and ensures that green principles are outlined, making sure that environmental considerations are integral to each project’s process and to the programme.

Serghiy Zbrokh, Technical Adviser, underlines the importance of continuity. “As a technical expert in water supply and wastewater, my main responsibilities include evaluating all technical solutions from application forms to tender documents and technical proposals. I also assess and monitor the quality of contractors’ designs and the implementation until project completion,” he says.

Photo: Nefco team members inspecting one of the financed objects within the Critical Infrastructure programme

Achieving progress amidst a full-scale war

Russia’s invasion has further complicated efforts to realise projects rapidly and transparently. Despite these challenges, Nefco’s critical infrastructure programme has made significant progress since late 2022. A large number of contracts—48 in total—have been procured and implemented simultaneously.

According to Anna Minakova, Technical Adviser, the main hurdle involves the implementation of the entire programme and its projects amidst the backdrop of a full-scale war. “Considering the present circumstances, it is essential to factor in the risks of attacks and the resulting damage. Military mobilisation has also brought about an increased shortage of both contractors’ and communities’ personnel, in addition to continuously experiencing prolonged delivery times for equipment and materials.”

In this programme, we are breaking new ground.

Ronny Nilsson, Senior Adviser

She points out that overcoming these difficulties demands daily collaboration and coordination with all parties involved in the programme, including the communities, consultants, and contractors. “Flexibility in management processes and procedures is crucial, as they were not originally developed for wartime conditions. Moreover, creativity is required when looking for solutions and making decisions in these situations.”

Serghiy echoes these sentiments. “Unfortunately, due to the current busy schedules of designers, with only a few available in Ukraine, we find ourselves deviating from planned work schedules. This delay continues to build up for some contracts. However, our team is exerting every effort to expedite the flow of documents and disbursements for each ongoing contract under the programme.”

The importance of trust, cooperation, and effective communication

Ronny highlights the limitation of not being able to visit project sites in Ukraine to observe developments firsthand. “This requires placing trust in individuals,” he says, emphasising the importance of close cooperation with colleagues and consultants on-site in Ukraine.

Furthermore, Iryna says PIU support consultants are pivotal to the programme’s success. “Nefco’s Ukrainian team maintains daily contact with PIU consultants, who play a key role in offering guidance on Nefco rules and policies at the operational level. Owing to their excellent rapport with contractors on-site and within the communities, they address problems and resolve misunderstandings, facilitating effective communication between contractors and donor representatives. This ability to understand and adapt to challenges ensures the smooth progression of projects.”

Pride and gratitude in work that produces tangible results

All in all, the team members are proud to belong to an organisation that acts as a much-needed bridge between humanitarian crisis management and longer-term sustainable development. “I view what we do at Nefco with gratitude and appreciation,” says Ronny. “In this programme, we are breaking new ground.”

Anna feels a sense of fulfilment in being part of a team of professionals dedicated to restoring damaged infrastructure. “What excites me the most is encountering challenges, devising solutions to move forward, and ultimately achieving successful outcomes that benefit all parties involved.”

By actively engaging communities, we not only involve citizens and residents in constructive activities but also provide a distraction from the harsh realities of war.

Iryna Fedorenko, Investment Adviser

Serghiy is likewise pleased to be actively involved in the rehabilitation of crucial facilities for people. “What I find most rewarding is that my work yields tangible results that are not only visible but can even be ‘tasted’, especially in the context of water treatment facilities and drinking water supply. Several small communities are benefitting from the installation of new water and wastewater treatment facilities because of our efforts, which are particularly significant today.

Iryna affirms that, as a Ukrainian, she is thankful that her work contributes to building her country’s resilience. “We give hope to people that the European Union and other donors are standing with Ukrainians. By actively engaging communities, we not only involve citizens and residents in constructive activities but also provide a distraction from the harsh realities of war.”

For further information, please contact:

Ronny Nilsson, Senior Adviser, Nefco
ronny.nilsson@nefco.int,+358 10 618 0642

Iryna Fedorenko, Investment Adviser, Nefco
iryna.fedorenko@nefco.int, +380 96 270 9622, +358 50 400 53 82

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