Ukraine ACTED

Being a local humanitarian aid worker in conflict-affected Eastern Ukraine

The armed conflict in eastern Ukraine enters its eighth year in 2021. Although the conflict has faded from the media headlines, the crisis continues and 3.4 million people are still projected as in need of humanitarian assistance this year. The particularity of this crisis is that 1/3 of the people in need are elderly.

This situation has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic as it poses additional challenges such as problems with physical and mental well-being, poor healthcare and social protection system. The difficulties the conflict-affected population now faces in terms of access to essential services, financial, and social support further threaten their economic stability.

ACTED’s staff work on and off the field to provide humanitarian cash aid to the most vulnerable in eastern Ukraine to help conflict-affected people afford their basic needs and maintain stability.

In this article, Anna, our Cash Officer who has been working in ACTED Ukraine since 2018 will explain the importance of cash aid assistance in this particular context and will, as a local, present the humanitarian crisis through her own eyes.

Why did you choose to work in the humanitarian field?

«Until May 2014 I was an entrepreneur, but due to the conflict outbreak, I realized that people who suffered from the effects of the conflict needed support and assistance. That made me decide to apply for the vacancy of Mine Risk Education trainer which consisted in conducting classes with children and teachers on mine safety.

At that time, the conflict in Eastern Ukraine was in a hot phase forcing more and more displaced persons to arrive to the city I was living in. It was not easy for them to find themselves in a new reality, to arrange their life without sufficient resources. I began my path in the humanitarian sphere, realizing the importance of the knowledge that I can transfer to children: the acquired skills to help protect their life and health. I decided to become a part of ACTED’s Cash team, having the skills needed to work in the humanitarian field I had the opportunity to provide assistance to the ones who need it the most. »

Why does ACTED Ukraine carry out cash distributions and what is its impact?

«I work as a Cash Project Officer in the city of Sloviansk, in Eastern Ukraine. I take an active part in the implementation of various projects aimed at meeting of basic needs of the most vulnerable people living in a conflict-affected area by providing cash assistance.”

Cash transfer supports economically vulnerable populations to respond to immediate food insecurity issues while ensuring their economic independence.

Anna, Cash Officer for ACTED

 “It is also a wider and more dignified form of assistance, giving populations the flexibility to choose what to purchase based on their preferences. In turn, this supports trade and local businesses, stimulating early recovery for the larger conflict-affected area, rather than just the targeted households.

I work alongside representatives of local administrations and communities to present projects. »

How does ACTED contribute to improving the humanitarian situation in Ukraine?

«ACTED’s intervention is divided in three pillars. The first one is providing life-saving and life-preserving humanitarian cash assistance to help meet their food security, basic needs during and after winter time. The second pillar focuses on supporting evidence-based planning to improve decision-making by local authorities and finally reducing vulnerability to disaster risk. »

Being a humanitarian worker in Ukraine

What are the biggest humanitarian needs in Eastern Ukraine?

«Although the number of people directly suffering from active hostilities decreases, the humanitarian situation is still difficult due to a number of factors. Hostilities along the Contact Line continue, social and economic ties of the region have been destroyed, young people leave settlements to get an education and find a well-paid job but most enterprises are closed or are in the process of liquidation. The biggest needs of the people living in eastern Ukraine are access to jobs and quality medical care, access to clean drinking water as well as access to affordable energy resources during the heating season. The need for food and hygiene products, heating materials, and medicines is not completely met for many households, and sometimes for entire settlements. »

Are you hopeful about the future of Ukraine?

«It is too early to make assumptions as we cannot predict the end of the conflict. The achievement we can highlight is the cessation of active hostilities which should continue until the signing of peace agreements. But even then, there will still be challenges that humanitarian organizations will have to face to restore the region and hope for a peaceful life. »

 

In 2020, ACTED provided multi-purpose cash assistance to cover the humanitarian needs of 13,042 people in conflict-affected areas close to the Contact Line in Eastern Ukraine. This was possible thanks to the European Union’s support through its Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations as well as from the United States Agency for International Development, USAID.