Early 2014 saw the beginning of an armed conflict between the Ukrainian government and non-state armed actors from the self-proclaimed Donestsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR). The fighting led to the separation of the Government Controlled Areas (GCA) and the Non-Government Controlled Areas (NGCA), a demarcation that cut through the socioeconomic fabric of both sides. Further to the humanitarian situation resulting from the conflict, the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020 and associated containment measures have lead to increased concerns around livelihoods and socio-economic wellbeing in the eastern conflict area. Moreover, it has been suggested that COVID-19 may have disrupted access to basic public services, such as pension payments. Given 3.4 million people were already estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance at the outset of 2020, close monitoring of the situation in the eastern conflict area throughout the outbreak was identified as a pressing need.
To gather up-to-date information on the capacity of households (HHs) to cope with the dual shock of conflict and COVID-19, REACH Initiative (REACH) conducted a household economic resilience assessment in areas close to the contact line. The assessment was carried out by REACH, with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) and in coordination with the Food Security and Livelihood Cluster (FSLC) partners in Ukraine. The assessment aimed to identify the type of households most likely to show signs of economic distress over the winter of 2020 - 2021, the status of their food consumption and the coping strategies used.
The components of the assessment were:
A secondary data review (SDR) of the 2020 GCA Multi-Sector Needs Assessment which identified the socio-economic and demographic characteristics of households at risk of relative poverty. Factsheet available online.
A pre-winter (November - December 2020) comprehensive survey covering six strata defined by the level of urbanisation and oblast. Report available online.
A smaller, post-winter (March 2021) survey, measuring the arealevel household socio-economic changes covering three strata defined by the level of urbanisation.
The assessment used a mixed methods approach comprising a secondary data analysis component, a pre-winter, and a post-winter survey. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, data was collected through phone-based interviews with households randomly selected from a database of contacts of households who were part of previous REACH-led assessments - who agreed their contact details to be retained by REACH for follow-up calls, and contacts of households from local partners.
Households were randomly selected for the two quantitative surveys, without replacement, from a single sample frame via a two-stage stratified sampling process, first by settlement and then by population number for each settlement. To facilitate comparison, findings from the pre-winter survey were re-calculated based on the second round strata. However, due to different methodologies being used in the two surveys, along with different socio-economic conditions at the time of interviews, observed differences between indicators could be influenced by external factors and comparisons between the two surveys should be considered as indicative only. Moreover, significance testing has not been conducted for strata not included in the original plan or between the rounds, therefore any changes +/-10% are likely within the margin of error of the two assessments. As a result, findings are not generalizable to the status of all GCA residents in the area of interest and encourage further analysis of the economic situation of households living close to the contact line.