Supporting community resilience in eastern Ukraine

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Ukraine is a post-Soviet country with a broad spectrum of humanitarian and development challenges. In 2014, an armed conflict began in eastern Ukraine, which has persisted for 7 years with varying intensity. Although the hostilities have decreased significantly since the beginning of the conflict, 3.4 million people are still in need of humanitarian assistance according to the 2021 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO).

In 2014 a decentralization reform was launched across Ukraine, which involves the transfer of powers and resources from the state government to newly-established local administrations, called hromadas (the word for “community” in Ukrainian). The end goal is for hromadas to self-govern and provide full-fledged services for their population. However, the process of its implementation poses challenges to the authorities and society: changes in local government, the administrative structure, and locations of social services among them.

2020 brought new challenges when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold and worsened an already difficult situation: increased pressure on the health care system, difficulty in meeting basic needs, and, in particular, an increase in sanitation needs, which cannot always be met due to the poor condition of the water supply system in eastern Ukraine.

ACTED brings a humanitarian response through a Consortium

ACTED has partnered with IMPACT Initiatives, Right to Protection, the Danish Red Cross and Ukrainian Red Cross Society to implement a 12-month project titled “Supporting sustainability of response and community resilience in Volnovakha raion, Eastern Ukraine” (SHIFT), funded by the Ukraine Humanitarian Fund (UHF). This project provides humanitarian assistance and access to essential services in three frontline hromadas of Volnovaka raion in eastern Ukraine. It also supports strengthened government ownership and response capacity in coordination with development actors.

Moreover, this project is an important step for the humanitarian system. It shifts away from the direct delivery of services by external NGOs, who have been implementing the humanitarian response for the past 7 years, and moves toward a government-managed response and service provision by the newly-decentralized local authorities.

The main activities of the project include:

  • Setup of Mobile Community Social Services (MCSS) and a social taxi service to support access to social, health, education, and other essential services by populations with limited mobility

  • Distribution of hygiene kits to vulnerable populations and social institutions to manage and prevent the spread of COVID-19;

  • Conducting of Water Risk Analyses (WRA), development of Water Safety Plans (WSP), and direct material support for provision, repair, and/or rehabilitation to enhance targeted hromadas’ water system capacity;

  • Provision of community vulnerability data and analysis as evidence for local planning and recovery;

  • Joint development of emergency preparedness and response plans with local authorities;

  • Provision of training and equipment to local first responders;

  • Legal protection services for beneficiaries and advocacy on legal reforms.

The consortium will improve access to and durability of public services (social, legal, emergency management, and water and sanitation) by strengthening local service providers’ capacity through training, material investment, community-level data collection, and evidence-based advocacy. Sustainable humanitarian response modalities will be established in cooperation with the local government authorities in three frontline hromadas, setting examples for adoption across eastern Ukraine. Ultimately, more than 88,000 people across these hromadas will benefit from the project.