Reconstruction Ukraine – what are key points ?

Author: Manu Steens

In this article I write my own opinion, not that of any organization.

Ukraine is currently being shot into the Stone Age. The target par excellence is critical infrastructure: water and energy installations, as well as others, such as road infrastructure, ports and airports, do not come out unscathed.

The question then is, with what will remain of it, not only what it can look like, but especially what are key points for reconstruction.

On rough terrain, such as a broken road infrastructure, transport costs quickly rise to five times those of an intact road network. The financial cost has thus been demonstrated as an important risk for the supply chain.

Health care: care for the injured, but also the current tuberculosis and the still present corona pandemic and the flu wave and associated pneumonia, need for action: provide for a reconstruction of sick care.

Training: schools are needed to provide a renewed approach to training for future generations, but the infrastructure includes not only the buildings, but also the teachers, the classroom infrastructure, projectors, IT systems, course materials,…

Airports that have been destroyed must be rebuilt, not only for civil aviation, but also for military aviation. This is important for easy accessibility deep in the country, once there is peace.

The water supply needs to be redeveloped, debris cleared.

In order to rebuild that critical infrastructure, concrete mixers have to run, pumps move water, and therefore electricity is needed, for that in one of the most important first infrastructureworks the electricity nodes have to be rebuilt. In order to clear the debris and brick buildings, heavy machinery and vehicles are also needed on site. So transport will have to be possible, and one must provide fuel and people. Then nutrition is also needed.

With such reasoning we find out what is important for the reconstruction of the Ukrainian state, when we do this from scratch: a first attention should be given to the following sectors (not necessarily in that order) (non-exhaustive list)

  1. Agriculture and livestock farming and (sea) fishing as a basic link in the food chain.
  2. Food and beverage production and the hospitality industry, including drinking water sector
  3. Medicine, medicine and hygiene. They may be exhausted and run slower for a while, also due to recovery from past crises.
  4. Clothing for protection against weather conditions.
  5. Substances and simple chemistry (such as fuels, soap, calcium carbonate (for many applications), …)
  6. Advanced chemistry e.g. petrochemical sector products (e.g. for medicines).
  7. Materials such as clay, metals, glass, and building materials
  8. Electricity and other forms of energy (because then a lot can work where there are people who can work)
  9. Mobility / transport (because then factories can be supplied and the supply chain works back)
  10. Means of communication (because justice depends on it, but actually the entire society)
  11. Relaunch of the schools: what about the people who could not do their year?
  12. Politics: keeping predators at bay who want to take over the economic markets in the terminally ill country in order to make it easier to take the future markets
  13. Banks, with a key role for economic / financial transactions

What is important as a supporting skill is the specialized supply chain of many of these sectors. These include roads, railways, waterways, ports, airports, warehouses, cooling, production sites…

So a big interest of politics will be to facilitate those supply chains. A key role for her is to ensure that the different sectors work together to achieve optimal results. In order to get these things going, support from abroad is needed. Read the EU.

However, such a situation of reconstruction entails risks: threats and opportunities.

For example, every port that is set up threatens to become a hub of drugs, counterfeits, e-waste (waste import), weapons, illegal immigrants, etc.

The clearing of bombed-out apartments and critical infrastructure not only produces gravel, but also precious metals such as copper, which is wrapped in plastic. If one tries to remove this plastic by burning it, dioxins are released. They initially move in the air, then rain out and thus end up in the food chain or elsewhere in fauna and flora.

Due to the large future demand for vehicles, the country will become a market for second-hand and third-hand vehicles from Western European countries. Transport of such vehicles is known to transport a lot of waste in the cargo areas of these vehicles.

The high need for cheap means of communication will increase the demand for second-hand means of communication such as mobile phones and computers, causing second-hand devices to change hands again. In addition, a new reinstallation takes place, which greatly shortens the life cycle. That gives a false appearance of cost-benefit responsible means of communication.

Weak legislation and a lack of income from the country will tempt farmers to use very strong very unhealthy weedkillers to maximize their crops, which does not benefit the health of the customers.

Due to a shortage of police presence in the transition period to a rebuilt state, crime will flourish during that transition period .

A shortage of inspectors creates investors looking for pollution havens. Although, according to certain studies in the literature, this is often not the reason for attracting foreign investment. More often people are looking for many and cheap well-trained workers, for an abundance of skilled suppliers and for an environment with several other investors. A number of these are in themselves bottlenecks.

Longer-term investments are needed before they bear much fruit.

The destroyed country can become a haven for extremists.

The conclusion of all this is that peace in the short term requires a well-oiled government apparatus.

Manu Steens

Manu works at the Flemish Government in risk management and Business Continuity Management. On this website, he shares his own opinions regarding these and related fields. Since 2012, he has been working at the Crisis Centre of the Flemish Government (CCVO), where he has progressed in BCM, risk management, and crisis management. Since August 2021, he has been a knowledge worker for the CCVO. As of January 2024, he works at the Department of Chancellery and Foreign Affairs of the Flemish Government. Here, he combines BCM, risk management, and crisis management to create a tailored form of resilience management to meet the needs of the Flemish Government.

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