In the city of Kherson in southern Ukraine, 240 schoolchildren will start their next term in a prefabricated school building erected by Finnish builders. A good number of the pupils are internally displaced persons: Because of the Ukraine crisis, people have moved from the eastern parts of the country to the Kherson province (oblast). The construction will be financed from Finland's development cooperation funds and the building will be supplied by Elemenco, a producer of prefabricated units and modules in eastern Finland.
The school project in Kherson is a part of the Nordic Energy Efficiency and Humanitarian Support Initiative (NIU), launched by the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation NEFCO in 2014. The initiative aims to support Ukraine, where the political, economic and humanitarian situation has aggravated. Even though the Ukraine crisis no longer shows in the news headlines, the daily distress of internally displaced persons (IDPs) persists. The situation is challenging to the local healthcare, education and social welfare services.
Finland supports through NEFCO not only the school in Kherson but also the reconstruction and energy-efficiency of municipal infrastructure in eastern and southern Ukraine. The school building project will cost about EUR 2.5 million, and Finland will also contribute EUR 750 000 to the renovation of various municipal buildings.
The modules will be pre-constructed at a factory located in Kaavi, north Savo. The modules will then be transported to southern Ukraine. The city of Kherson will take care of the foundations, water piping and sewerage systems. The new school building will be erected on the same site where the existing school is. That ensures that there is the required infrastructure. The new building should be ready by the start of the next autumn term.
To date, Finland has supported Ukraine through international organizations, in the form of humanitarian aid, and by sending technical assistance.
"Alongside participation in international projects, we have discussed how to make use of Finnish expertise in responding to the reconstruction and renovation needs and how to encourage small and medium-sized companies to engage in development cooperation work", says Juhani Toivonen, Counsellor for Foreign Affairs at the Department for Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Six construction companies were invited to bid for the school project in Kherson but Elemenco was the only one that finally submitted its tender. The contract in Ukraine is significant for the business as it gives work to the some 20 workers employed by the company at the Kaavi Luikonlahti factory.
Kherson is dominated by agriculture and the level of income remains below Ukrainians' average income. Because of the Ukraine crisis, about 10,000 people have fled to the area and they need education, healthcare and social services.
The new school will provide room for about 240 schoolchildren in the lower and upper grades of basic education. The school building will also be used as a social centre, which provides social and psychological support and organises workshops for children and adults.
Over the past two years, Finland has directed about EUR 18 million of its development cooperation funds to supporting Ukraine. The majority of the support for reconstruction is channelled to the Nordic Energy Efficiency and Humanitarian Support Initiative, which is managed by NEFCO. Furthermore, Finland has taken part in projects managed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Finland has channelled humanitarian aid via the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).