The North Crimean Canal, built after Crimea became part of the Ukrainian SSR in 1954, made it possible to transform the peninsula’s salt marshes and steppe into fertile land. Up until 2014, the 400-kilometer-long canal brought water from the Dnipro River to Crimea, meeting over 80% of the peninsula’s fresh water needs.

Today northern Crimea is drying out. After Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, Ukrainian authorities greatly reduced the water supply to the occupied peninsula. In May 2014, citing an outstanding debt on water supplied, Ukraine built a temporary dam in the Kherson region, which borders Crimea, according to Hromadske International.

In 2017, this dam became permanent.

In mid-July 2018, Ukraine’s Ministry of Temporarily Occupied Territories and IDPs published the results of a remote probe showing the amount of live green vegetation on the peninsula, confirming that Crimea’s ecosystem is quickly changing due to lack of water.

Hromadske’s correspondents uncovered that many residents of northern Crimea have abandoned their homes and gardens, as there is nothing to water the vegetation with.

Journalists traveled to the occupied Armiansk, in the north of the Crimean peninsula, to see how the canal looks today and how people are dealing with the water shortage.

“There is no water, none,” said an elderly man, wearing a blue baseball cap with the outline of Ukraine (Crimea included) and “Yanukovych 2010” printed on it. “I walk around, just sprinkling the bushes and watering the trees a bit, so they don’t dry out. We need water, we need it.”