How illumination changed during the war in free Ukraine and in the occupied territories

Country/area: Ukraine

Organisation: Texty.org.ua

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 23/02/2021

Credit: Andriy Harasym, Darya Kurenna, Nadia Kelm


Project team: journalists Andrii Harasym and Darya Kurenna, designer Nadia Kelm

Nadia Kelm: designer in Texty.org.ua, Kyiv, Ukraine. Author of the course about design in data visualization for School of Infographic (Internews Ukraine), winner of the national competition The best book design 2019 (the Arsenal Book Festival).

Andrii Harasym: journalist from Kyiv with exerience in analytical work in environmental and civic engagement spheres.

Darya Kurenna: freelance journalist from Kyiv; works with TEXTY for years on different social topics including life on Ukrainian territories occupied by Russia.

Project description:

In this data journalism project, we show how the situation with lighting in Ukraine has changed during the war. We analysed light pollution data from 2012 and 2019. If the southern regions of Ukraine literally shone, the occupied parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions are doing much worse. Though Ukraine still less lightened than other European countries, decentralization reform which brought more money to municialities showed its effectiveness.

Impact reached:

We got three main findings, when have imposed light pollution maps of Ukraine from 2012 (before Ukrainian revolution of dignity and further Russian aggression) and 2019 (5 years after revolution and Russian occupation of parts of Ukraine).

1. Parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, occupied by Russia and warline alongside doing bad, as light level decreased a lot, some villages literally in the dark; the region is destroyed for years.

2. The decentralisation reform, which follows the Revolution of dignity in 2013-2014, affected positively as regions got more money and started to make its living areas more and more brightened; more light makes neighborhoods safe 

3. Southern coastline areas became the most influenced (with the most added light from 2012 to 2019) from the reform results as a new local tourism destination, follows the Russian annexation of Crimea with its recreation infrastructure and nature resources.

Techniques/technologies used:

Data was taken from https://www.lightpollutionmap.info/. This is information about the level of light pollution in the world. Only artificial light is displayed on the map. Data is collected using the Visible Infrared Imaging Suite radiometer, a sensor that detects radiation sources and is extremely sensitive even in low light conditions. It was developed and manufactured by Raytheon and is one of five instruments aboard the Suomi National Polar-Orbital Partnership (NPP) satellite platform, which was launched on October 28, 2011.

We accumulated data for Ukraine for two periods: 2012 year (before Ukrainian revolution of dignity and further Russian aggression) and 2019 (5 years after revolution and Russian occupation of parts of Ukraine). We imposed the obtained maps from different years on each other and thus singled out the areas with the most noticeable difference.

What was the hardest part of this project?

From the beginning, our idea was to check how light pollution changed during the last years in Ukraine. We had an assumption that it would be more light in regions far away from bigger cities following the decentralisation reforms in Ukraine, which brought more money to municipalities.

But when we took a look to the differencies between 2012 and 2019, we noticed that some regions became even less lightened. Accordingly we got a proof of degradation of occupied parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Also we saw that southern regions, along Black sea coastline, have the biggest differences in lightening change.

What can others learn from this project?

To confirm the assumptions about the main reasons for the changes in lightening, our journalists took comments from municipalities in several towns, as well as residents of the occupied areas in eastern Ukraine. Some municipalities stated that they systematically renewing street light equipment with LED-lamps, which affected the lighting level of their municipalities. Local resident from occupied territories have us details on when and how the street light being disappeared. This is the added value we have gained from combining data analysis with interviews with different stakeholders.

Project links: