In March 2014, conflict between the Government of Ukraine (GoU) military and pro-opposition separatists broke out in eastern Ukraine. In eastern Ukraine, political and economic turmoil driven by years of conflict continue to drive food insecurity. Conflict-related displacement, collapse of government services, deflation of the national currency, and high levels of unemployment have exacerbated food insecurity among conflict-affected populations in both government-controlled areas (GCA) and nongovernment-controlled areas (NGCA).
Additionally, Ukraine is experiencing one of the highest food inflation rates in the world. A government-imposed economic blockade and violence continue to isolate civilians in conflict-affected areas, hindering civilian access to food, health and education services, according to the UN.
Humanitarian access is also severely limited in NGCA presenting a challenge to deliver impartial assistance. The GoU has imposed additional restrictions on movement beyond the contact line and de facto authorities in NGCA have established restrictions on humanitarian operations.
In October 2017, the UN World Food Program (WFP) reached approximately 31,000 people in with food assistance, according to the UN agency. WFP prioritizes general food assistance for the elderly, female-headed households, chronically ill people, persons with disabilities, and unaccompanied minors. WFP continues to address the food needs of the most vulnerable populations, particularly in conflict-affected areas in eastern Ukraine, while gradually supporting early recovery activities that aim to enhance local livelihoods, increase income, and rehabilitate productive assets.
USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) supports WFP’s efforts to respond to food insecurity in eastern Ukraine. In Fiscal Year 2017, FFP contributed $3 million to WFP to reach an estimated 13,000 food-insecure people in GCA with cash transfers and vouchers for food where local markets are available and functioning. According to WFP, cash-based transfers are an effective and efficient way to diversify the diets of beneficiaries over time.
1.2 million people located in the Donbass region–consisting of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions in east Ukraine–are food insecure, according to a joint food security assessment produced by the Food Security and Livelihoods Cluster in September.
The assessment indicated that approximately 800,000 people were moderately or severely food insecure in NGCA–including 150,000 severely food insecure. According to the UN, in GCA, of the approximately 410,000 people moderately or severely food insecure, 26,000 were severely food insecure.