|Countries, regions, river basins|
|Irrigation and drainage|
|Maps and spatial data|
Info for the media
|Did you know...?|
|Visualizations and infographics|
|SDG Target 6.4|
|Year: 2015||Revision date: --||Revision type: --|
|Regional report:||Eastern Europe|
Ukraine, located in Eastern Europe, has a total area of 603 550 km². It is bordered in the southwest by Romania and the Republic of Moldova, in the west by Hungary, Slovakia and Poland, in the northwest by Belarus, in the northeast and east by the Russian Federation, and in the south by the Black Sea, where the Crimea peninsula is located. Administratively, Ukraine is divided into 24 provinces (oblasts), 1 Autonomous Republic (Crimea) and 2 municipalities with oblast status (Kiev and Sevastopol).
The predominant lowland is interrupted by several regions of modest elevation, such as the Volyn-Podolsk plateau (also called the Podolian plateau) in the west, the Dnipro (Dnieper) ridge in the centre, and the Donets ridge in the southeast. The Carpathian mountains (with their highest peak, Hoverla, at 2 061 m above sea level) and their foothills in the southwest, together with the Crimean mountains (1 545 m above sea level) along the southern coast of the Crimean peninsula, constitute the only mountainous sections of Ukraine.
The agricultural area, which is the sum of arable land, permanent crops and permanent meadows and pasture, is estimated at 41 million ha, which is 68 percent of the total area of the country. In 2014, the total physical cultivated area was estimated at 33.4 million ha, of which 97 percent (32.5 million ha) consisted of temporary crops and 3 percent (0.9 million ha) of permanent crops (Table 1).
There are four agro-climatological zones in Ukraine:
The average annual precipitation over the country is estimated at 565 mm. This figure includes snowfall, which is an important source of water, particularly in the west.
In 2015, the total population was about 45 million, of which around 31 percent was rural (Table 1). Average population density in the country is 74 inhabitants/km², varying from 164 inhabitants/km² in the Donetsk oblast to 33 inhabitants/km² in the Chernihiv oblast. The average annual population growth rate in the 2005-2015 period has been estimated at minus 0.4 percent.
In 2014, the Human Development Index (HDI) ranks Ukraine 81 among 188 countries, while the Gender Inequality Index (GII) ranks 57 among 155 countries, for which information was available. Life expectancy is 71 years and the under-five mortality is 10 per 1000 births, both progressing from 67 years and 20 per 1000 in the 1990s. With no significant distinction between boys and girls, around 97 percent of the children in 2013 are enrolled in primary education, but only 87 percent for secondary education (WB, 2015). Adult literacy is 99.7 percent in 2012 (UNDP, 2015). In 2015, 96 percent of the total population had access to improved water sources (96 and 98 percent in urban and rural areas respectively) and 96 percent of the total population had access to improved sanitation (97 and 93 percent in urban and rural areas respectively) (JMP, 2015).
In 2014, the gross domestic product (GDP) was US$ 132 000 million and agriculture accounted for 12 percent of GDP, while in 1994 it accounted for 16 percent.
The potential for agricultural production is rather evenly spread throughout the country, with two distinguishable centres: the western region characterized by a moderate climate, and the southern region with its fertile black soils where irrigation plays an important role.
The sudden loss of state agricultural subsidies after independence in 1991 had an enormous effect on the agricultural sector: fertilizer use fell by 85 percent over a ten-year period and grain production by 50 percent; farms were forced to cope with inefficient machinery because no funds were available for capital investment. However, farmers’ decisions regarding crop selection and management became increasingly market-based, which contributed to increased efficiency in both the livestock and the crop production sectors (USDA, 2004).
State and collective farms were officially dismantled in 2000, and farm property was divided among the farm workers and most of the new shareholders leased their land back to newly formed private agricultural associations. In 2013, out of the total agricultural area of 41 million ha, 46.9 percent belongs to non-state agricultural enterprises, 2.3 percent to state agricultural enterprises, 38.4 percent are private lands and 12.4 percent correspond to other users (Ukrstat, 2014, USDA, 2004).
The country can be divided into seven major river basins, all of them discharging into the Black Sea except the Western Bug which flows towards the Baltic Sea:
IRSWR are estimated at 50 100 million m³/year (Table 2) and incoming RSWR at 120 180 million m³. Therefore, the total RSWR are estimated at 170 280 million m³/year.
The longest rivers within Ukraine are the Dnipro (1 121 km), Dniester (925 km), Southern Bug (806 km), Donets (700 km), Horyn (577 km), Desna (575 km), Inhulets (549 km), Psel (520 km), Sluch (451 km), Styr (424 km), Western Bug (401 km) and Orel (346 km) (Ukrstat, 2015a).
Internal renewable groundwater resources are estimated at 22 000 million m³/year. Artesian wells are found at an average depth of 100-150 m in the north of the country and at 500-600 m in the south. The overlap between surface and groundwater resources has been estimated at 17 000 million m³/year, which brings the total renewable water resources to 175 280 million m³ (170 280+22 000-17 000) (Table 3).
In 2005, produced municipal wastewater was estimated at 2 154 million m³. In 2011, treated municipal wastewater was estimated at 1 763 million m³.
There are about 3 000 natural lakes in Ukraine, with a total area of 2 000 km². The largest freshwater lakes are located in the central and southern parts of the country. In addition to these lakes, there are about 12 000 km² of swamps (peat soils) in the north. The lakes with the largest surface areas in the country are Yalpuh (149 km²), Kagul (90 km²), Kugurluy (82 km²), Sasyk (75 km²) and Katlabug (68 km²) (Ukrstat, 2015a).
There are about 1 103 reservoirs with a total capacity of 55 500 million m³ (Guseva, 2012). Up to 43 700 million m³ are accumulated in the cascade of Dnipro water reservoirs: the Kremenchug (13 520 million m³), the Kakhovka (18 180 million m³), the Kiev (3 730 million m³), the Dnipro (3 320 million m³), the Kanev (2 480 million m³) and the Dniprod Zerzhinsk (2 460 km³). Other important dams are the Dniester dam in the Dniester river (3 000 million m³), the Krasno-Oskol dam in the Oskol river (474 million m³) and the Simferopol dam in the Samir river (36 million m³). These dams are used for hydropower production, for supplying electricity to the main cities and industrial centres; for flood protection; and for irrigation and fishery purposes.
From the dams the water is further redistributed by large canals, transporting water both within the same basin and from one basin to the other:
After the break-up of the former Soviet Union many transboundary water resources problems appeared. Since the early 1990s, to a greater or lesser extent all countries in Eastern Europe, have taken measures to establish transboundary cooperation in use and protection of water resources. Ukraine has joined the following agreements or projects (ECE, 2009, Gabor, 2008, Nalecz, 2010):
In 2010, total water withdrawal was estimated at 14 846 million m³ of which 7 126 million m³ (48 percent) for industry, 4 454 million m³ (30 percent) for agriculture – including irrigation, livestock watering and cleaning, and aquaculture – and 3 266 million m³ (22 percent) for municipalities (Figure 1 and Table 4). Compared to 1992, the total withdrawal decreased by more than 40 percent (Ukrstat, 2011).
Around 80 percent of total water withdrawal is withdrawn from surface water (Figure 2).
Irrigation in Ukraine has a long tradition, particularly in Crimea, where it dates back to the early centuries of the modern era. Major irrigation development also took place in the Middle Ages, during the Tatar Empire (thirteenth and fourteenth centuries), and again in the nineteenth century, when it expanded from Crimea to the steppes in the south of the country. Large irrigation schemes were built in the 1930s in eastern Soviet Ukraine, as part of the ‘electrification of the socialist state’ project. In 1967, the area equipped for irrigation was estimated at 667 000 ha.
The irrigation potential has been estimated at 5.5 million ha. The most suitable areas for irrigation development, from a technical and economic point of view, are: the coastal plain along the Black Sea coast between Odessa and the Danube Delta; the area between Odessa and the Southern Bug valley; central Crimea; and the coastal areas along the Sea of Azov.
In 1984, the irrigated areas in Ukraine amounted to 2.4 million ha. More than 50 percent of this total was concentrated in the four districts that border the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. Other important regions for irrigation are the valleys of the Donets and of the Dnipro where supplementary irrigation is practiced in summer.
In 1992, the area equipped for irrigation covered about 2.6 million ha of which 0.5 million ha surface irrigation and 2.1 million ha sprinkler irrigation (Figure 3). Surface water was the only source of irrigation water and the reservoirs built on the main rivers, and particularly on the Dnipro river, provided water to the irrigated areas downstream through canals up to 500 km long. These canals also provided water to cities and industrial complexes in Crimea and in the far southwest of the country.
In 2013, total area equipped for irrigation was estimated at 2 169 000 ha (Ukrstat, 2014). In 1992, almost 80 percent used sprinkler irrigation technology. In 2003 actually irrigated area accounted for 731 400 ha, which was only about one third of the area equipped for irrigation in that year.
The first drainage works were introduced at the end of the eighteenth century in northwest Ukraine, then part of Poland. At that time, major canals were built mainly for communication and transport purposes, and the swamps were drained for cultivation. Drainage development has continued in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
In 1994, the drained area was estimated at 3.3 million ha, of which 63 percent was equipped with subsurface drains, mainly pipes (Table 5). About 1.8 million ha of irrigated land were equipped with drainage facilities to prevent salinization. In these areas, the groundwater level is kept at 1.5-3.0 m below the soil surface. In 2013, the total drained cultivated area is also estimated at 3.3 million ha.
The most important authorized bodies in the field of water resources management, use, protection and restoration are:
Other public institutions connected to water use are: the Ministry of Energy and Coal Mining Industry, the Ukrainian State Service of Sea and River Transportation, Ministry of Infrastructure, the State Agency of Fishing Management, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food and the Ministry of Regional Development, Construction and Communal Living.
Decentralization of water management is an attempt to address environmental challenges and make the water management system more responsive to citizen’s concerns, transparent in its decision-making process and capable of addressing pressing environmental issues effectively. These decentralization policies give more discretion to local government and local communities. In addition, more responsibility has been placed on large industrial enterprises and factories, which are directly responsible for water and air pollution (Khmelko, 2012).
The implementation of river basin management based on integrity, interrelationship and consistency with economic development, has been under discussion for a long time. However, principles of interaction between basin management administration and national institutions remain vague (Rubel, 2012).
Water charge was introduced in the 1980s. Ukraine has a well-developed system of charges for water use, including direct charges for the water withdrawal and a system of tariffs for secondary water users. Since 2011, an environmental tax on discharges of pollutants into water resources is operational. There is also a system of fines (Rugel, 2012).
The environmental legislation of post-Soviet Ukraine includes over 200 laws and by-laws (normative acts). The adoption of the New Constitution of Ukraine in 1996: (i) proclaimed the responsibility of the State to ensure ecological safety and to maintain ecological stability in Ukraine, (ii) confirmed the right of free and unrestricted access to information on environmental issues, and (iii) assigned the responsibility to all citizens to cause no harm to nature and to compensate for any harm caused by their actions.
Water resources are regulated by (Rubel, 2012; Guseva, 2012; Khmelko, 2012):
Drinking water quality is an important environmental health problem in the country, both in urban and in rural areas. In towns, the main drinking water problems are low water quality and limited water supply. In rural areas, where wells provide a more substantial source of water, the problems include water shortages and contamination of drinking water sources with chemicals such as manganese, iron, hydrogen sulfide and nitrates. There is also extensive leakage into the underground pipes of chemicals from pesticides. On average, 25 percent of the samples of drinking water taken from piped water supply systems and private wells in the country do not meet the European Union quality standards.
The poor drinking water quality causes several diseases as cholera, hepatitis A, ontological illness, metabolic disorder, endocrine dysfunction, allergies and skin diseases (Khmelko, 2012; Kuzneyetsov, 2006).
Salinity problems are concentrated mostly in the southern region.
The Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986 contaminated about 4.1 million ha. About 92 settlements around Chernobyl were evacuated. A strict radiological control has been applied over a larger zone. Due to the prevailing winds, most of the radioactivity fell on Belarus. At present, resettlement of areas from which people were relocated is ongoing.
Environmental damage following the accident affected fauna, vegetation, rivers, lakes and groundwater. The extent of the damage led scientists and government officials to the conclusion that the Chernobyl exclusion zone had been subjected to enough radioactive fallout to severely alter the ecological balance of the region for decades (Flanary, 2013).
Changing rainfall patterns and runoff due to climate change indicate that future summer river flows are likely to decrease substantially, by as much as 50 percent in Ukraine. It is expected that the country will suffer increased water stress over the 21st Century as severe droughts, classified today as one in 100 year events, are projected to become twice as likely by 2070. The sectors that are most vulnerable to these changes are agriculture in the south and industry and households in the south and southeast. In the south and southeast, surface water quality will deteriorate (Climate Adaptation, 2015).
Climate Adaptation. 2015. Freshwater resources Ukraine
ECE. 2009. Capacity for water cooperation in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia. Economic Commission for Europe
EPIRB. 2015. Ukraine. Environmental Protection of International River Basins Project
Flanary, W. 2013. Environmental effects of the Chernobyl accident
Gabor, O. 2008. Hydrosolidarity in the Prut river basin â€“ key element in transboundary flood management-
Guseva, N. 2012. Water resources and its accounting in Ukraine. State Statistics Service of Ukraine
ICID. Ukraine. International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage
JMP. 2015. Progress on drinking water and sanitation â€“ 2015 Update and MDG Assessment. WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation.
Khmelko I. 2012. Administrative decentralization in post communist countries: The case of water management in Ukraine
Kovalenko, P. Water resources of Ukraine. State and perspects of use.
Kuzneyetsov V. 2006. Urban water resources management in Ukraine
Nalecz, T. 2010. Sustainable use and protection of groundwater resources- transboundary water management- Belarus, Poland, Ukraine
Rubel, 0. 2012. Economic and institutional analysis of the feasibility of payments for ecosystem services in Ukraine.
Stebelsky I. 1984. Dnieper-Donbas Canal
Stebelsky I. 1984. Dnieper-Kryvyi Rih Canal
Ukrstat. 2011. Statistical yearbook 2010. Kiev 2011. State Statistics Service of Ukraine.
Ukrstat. 2014. Statistical Yearbook of Ukraine for 2013. State Statistics Service of Ukraine
Ukrstat. 2015a. Ukrain 2014. Statistical publication. State Statistics Service of Ukraine
Ukrstat. 2015b. Ukrain in figures 2014. State Statistics Service of Ukraine
UNDP. 2015. Human Development Reports: Data. United Nations Development Programme. New York.
USDA. 2004. Ukraine: Agricultural Overview. United States Department of Agriculture
WNA. 2015. Chernobyl Accident 1986. World Nuclear Association
World Bank. 2015. World Development Indicators. World DataBank. World Bank. Washington.
|Printer friendly version|
^ go to top ^
|Quote as: FAO. 2016. AQUASTAT website. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Website accessed on [yyyy/mm/dd].|
|© FAO, 2016 | Questions or feedback? firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Your access to AQUASTAT and use of any of its information or data is subject to the terms and conditions laid down in the User Agreement.|