Chornobyl’s recovery depends on long-term social and economic development on the community and regional levels and an effective information policy, concludes Chernobyl’s Legacy: Health, Environmental and Socio-Economic Impact, a report just released in Vienna by the Chernobyl Forum. The three-volume, 600-page report incorporates the work of hundreds of scientists, economists and health experts, and assesses the 20-year impact of the largest nuclear accident in history.

Chornobyl’s recovery depends on long-term social and economic development on the community and regional levels and an effective information policy, concludes Chernobyl’s Legacy: Health, Environmental and Socio-Economic Impact, a report just released in Vienna by the Chernobyl Forum. The three-volume, 600-page report incorporates the work of hundreds of scientists, economists and health experts, and assesses the 20-year impact of the largest nuclear accident in history.

The forum is made up of eight UN specialized agencies, including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA), United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), and the World Bank, and the governments of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.

Dr. Burton Bennett, chairman of the Chernobyl Forum and an authority on radiation effects stated, ‘The governments of the three countries most affected have realized that they need to find a clear way forward, and that progress must be based on a sound consensus about environmental, health and economic consequences and some good advice and support from the international community.’

Despite of the on-going scientific discussion about the level and danger of nuclear contamination, it has become clear that the fear associated with exposure to radiation from Chornobyl has been exaggerated. But, as UN Assistant Secretary-General Kalman Mizsei said in his opening statement at the forum, this does not in any way diminish the suffering that the affected communities have experienced. Their suffering is real and continues to this day, and it would be a mistake to dismiss it as somehow ‘irrational imagined or self-induced.’

‘Two decades after the Chernobyl accident, residents in the affected areas still lack the information they need to lead the healthy and productive lives that are possible,’ explains Louisa Vinton, Chernobyl who works on Chornobyl-related issues at UNDP.

The Chernobyl Forum concurred with the recommendations made by The Human Consequences of the Chornobyl Nuclear Accident. A Strategy for Recovery, a report produced by UNDP, UNICEF, OCHA and WHO in 2002.

After that report was issued, UNDP launched the Chornobyl Recovery and Development Programme to address the lingering consequences of the Chornobyl accident by supporting the Government of Ukraine in its efforts to promote long-term psychological, social, economic and environmental recovery in affected areas.

In order to assist the people in their recovery and development work in the Chornobyl-affected areas, the programme provides support on policy and institutional change to promote the development of Chornobyl-affected areas, helps local people organize self-governing community institutions manage their own efforts for social, economic and environmental rehabilitation and development.

‘Our main strategy is to discourage a “dependency” and a “victim” mentality, and assist with initiatives that encourage opportunity, support local development, and give people confidence in their futures,’ stated UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Representative in Ukraine Francis O’Donnell.

‘We at the UN are committed to do everything we can to advocate for greater international and national interest in Chornobyl, the ultimate goal being a final resolution to the problems caused by the tragic nuclear accident,’ Mr O’Donnell continued.

The UNDP’s Chornobyl programme works in the four oblasts most affected by Chornobyl in Ukraine (Kyivska, Zhytomyrska, Chernihivska and Rivnenska), and covers approxinmately 100 villages in 16 districts: Borodyansky, Ivankivsky, Kyivo-Svyatoshynsky, Makarivsky, Polissky, Brusylivsky, Korostensky, Ovrutsky, Luhynsky, Narodytsky, Olevsky, Emilchynsky Chernihivsky, Ripkynsky, Dubrovytsky and Rokytnivsky.