• Alisa Kyrpychova

“Due to intense shelling, there was no water in Sievierodonetsk – not a drop from the taps. While there still was electricity, we switched the water filling machines to the charge-free mode. And then people began to dismantle our machines to get any water,” says Yevhen. This way, last year, his family business on water purification became a critical production.

Five years ago, the Andrukhov family – brothers Anton and Yevhen and their father Valerii Viktorovych – have found their niche in improving the quality of drinking water. At first, they were installing water purification machines of other manufacturers, but delving into the process, they quickly discovered numerous shortcomings.  

“First of all, what we didn’t like in other machines was the lack of sewerage system. Water was constantly overflowing from bottles, and there were puddles around the water filling machines. This is where it all started,” explains one of the workers, Oleksandr. Discovering more and more imperfections, the team has developed an osmotic water purification machine from scratch. They have taken into account the climate of the steppes and harsh winters, when it could be up to minus 25°C outside. Therefore, the team began to install big purification systems and filling machines separately: a small filling unit – on the facades of houses, and purification systems with water storage tanks – in basements, where the hydraulic part  remained warm and did not fail during cold weather. This helped to save machines not only in winter, but also with during shelling and blackouts. Another detail that proved to be surprisingly effective was the thick steel hulls of the filling blocks, which could withstand the impact of debris. Yevhen says that within a few weeks from the start of the Russian Federation’s invasion, other machines broke down, and “our machines were still working, and we supplied Sievierodonetsk with water a while longer.”  

Brothers Anton and Yevhen started their water purification business in 2018. Photo: IOM/Alisa Kyrpychova

When the situation in the city escalated, brothers managed to save only their families. After changing several cities, they have stopped in Bucha. Now, they find many similarities with Sievierodonetsk here – in the size of the city, the atmosphere and even the destruction that only war can leave. But what distinguishes the two cities is the quality of the water. In Bucha, the quality is worse, so clean drinking water is no less needed here. With the IOM grant programme, they have bought equipment necessary to restart the production. 

“We left with nothing. Almost everything that we have now was purchased with grant funds,” says Yevhen. 

Feeling the support, the team continued to improve the production. The senior member of the team, Valerii Viktorovych, works with the engineering part. He creates electrical boards – the "brain" of the machines. The man remembers the times when everything had to be drawn by hand on paper. In Bucha, during the power outages, he studied programmes for constructing machines in a virtual environment. At this stage, and during 3D modelling, defects can be identified prior to release into production. 

Valerii Viktorovych works with the engineering part of business. Photo: IOM/Alisa Kyrpychova

From the office, Yevhen leads us to the nearest water purification machine, which his team has already installed in Bucha. Next to the button for water is a button for ozonation for container’s disinfection. This is also the development of the team, which allows to destroy bacteria and viruses that often remain on plastic containers that are not designed for reusing. 

In addition to three polypropylene and coal filters that collect sand and other large particles, each system has four purification membranes – “sieves” that separate water molecules from bacteria and viruses. This technology can provide the best quality of water. 

The water purification machines in Bucha can provide 500 litres of drinking water every day.

Half of the water that passes through the filters goes purified to people, the technical half is drained into the sewer. “This is an ecological option, because if a more concentrated liquid is dumped into the sewer it will lead to soil erosion and water oxidation,” says Anton. 

The brothers say that they receive messages from other people displaced from Sievierodonsk who recall the delicious drinking water in their native city:

“We have already accustomed our people to high-quality water. Now, they say that the water on the new places is bad, so we have enough work to do.”

A storage tank will provide people with drinking water even in case of blackouts. Photo: IOM/Alisa Kyrpychova

Within the project "SME Boost: Economic Integration of Internally Displaced Persons and Business Recovery" (December 2021-May 2024), funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the German Development Bank (KfW), 319 enterprises have received grants between EUR 4,500 to 20,000. 

This story was written by Alisa Kyrpychova from IOM Ukraine.  

SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation