The impact of global warming on the agricultural sector of Ukraine

Country/area: Ukraine

Organisation: TEXTY.org.ua, N-ost

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 30 Dec 2020

Credit: Petro Bodnar, Liubov Velychko

Project description:

To understand how global warming affects the agricultural sector of Ukraine we collected data on the dynamics of precipitation, air temperature and identified those areas of Ukraine where the effects of global warming are most noticeable. We went there and talked to farmers who use irrigation systems to save their crops from droughts. We collected data on companies that have permits to extract water in Ukraine and info about and groundwater reserves. We found out what the state is doing to facilitate the process of obtaining permits for the construction of irrigation systems.

Impact reached:

We became the first team of journalists in Ukraine to study the relationship between global warming and its consequences for the country’s agricultural sector. With the help of data collected from various sources (scientific articles, state registers, etc.), we showed a general picture and forecast of the situation for the next ten years. We explained in the simplest and most interesting language, on the example of living stories, how the irrigation system business works and what hinders its development. Since the publication came out in the last days of 2020, we are confident that the impact on the audience will be felt in the near future.

Techniques/technologies used:

As a primary analytic tool, we used python programming language with libraries for scrapping (bs4, requests) and data analysis (pandas, matplotlib). Additionally, we have done geoprocessing with qgis. We utilized vector tiles to represent ten thousand points on the map.

We used those tools to obtain data about water usage from the governmental data portal and get insights into the irrigation and water security in Ukraine. This helped to figure out that the entire industry is monopolized and could be affected by Russian citizens. 

Along with the purely technical tools, we used investigative journalism techniques for collecting information from official sources, interviewing businesses, experts, and the local population in the region of interest. We found out how climate change affected local communities, how citizens and businesses adapt to new environments.

What was the hardest part of this project?

The project consisted of two parts. First required detecting patterns in the varied and disperse data, including information from the national registry of water users, historical weather records, business data, and agriculture export statistics. Second, working with local communities, businesses, and officials to shed light on how communities in the regions most affected by climate change in Ukraine support and develop their irrigation facilities. And how these facilities help them to maintain traditional agriculture activities. The hardest part is to bring together those two components and build a human-centered story of the global phenomenon. 

What can others learn from this project?

We hope that after the project, journalists from other countries will also take up this topic. It is not just about irrigation systems, but also about how global warming is affecting economic aspects. When there is no water, productivity decreases and the gross product of the state falls accordingly. Global warming is not only about nature, but also about the economy. And it is the cooperation of an ordinary journalist with a data journalist that allows to show these nuances.

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