Maria Koval  aus Kopyliv | © Helvetas/Lesha Berezovskiy


Helvetas was present in Ukraine before the Russian invasion and remains active in the country. We provided humanitarian aid at the very beginning of the invasion in February 2022. In order to create prospects beyond meeting urgent needs, we have now set up our work for the long term.
© Helvetas/Lesha Berezovskiy
  • Capital
  • Area
    603,500 km²
    Rank: 77 out of 191
  • Population
  • Thematic focus
    Humanitarian Response
    Education and Vocational Skills
    Partnership & Capacity Development
    Market Systems Development
    Agriculture and Nutrition
* Source: UN Data

War has been raging for two years now – with catastrophic consequences. More than 14.6 million people are currently in need of humanitarian aid in Ukraine (as of January 29, 2024). According to United Nations estimates, approximately 6.3 million people have been displaced abroad; more than 3.6 million are internally displaced in Ukraine (as of January 29, 2024). An end to the war is not in sight. Helvetas provides humanitarian aid and is involved in longer-term development cooperation.

Protection and support in the first days and weeks 

At the beginning of the war, Helvetas, with the support of Swiss Solidarity and together with the European NGO network Alliance 2015, provided displaced people with hot meals, mattresses and hygiene items, as well as cash and vouchers to buy essentials – both in Ukraine and neighboring Moldova, where a lot of people fled and where we also provided financial support to host families. In 2022 alone, Helvetas provided humanitarian aid to over 57'000 people in need in Ukraine and Moldova.   

In Ukraine, we also helped to expand emergency shelters for internally displaced people and supported local authorities to develop suitable buildings, find the necessary equipment and set up essential infrastructure (e.g., washing facilities and kitchens).  

Helvetas employee Liuba Mirsa (yellow vest) is herself a refugee from Ukraine, where she has lived for 14 years, but she is originally from Palanca in Moldova. here, the refugees can warm up in the tent.
© Patrick Rohr
Liuba Mirsa from Helvetas receives refugees and helps them on their onward journey. © Patrick Rohr
© Patrick Rohr
At the Palanca border crossing in southeast Moldova, refugees are received and cared for at the Helvetas Help Point. © Patrick Rohr
Lviv_Ukraine_Hilfe_Binnenflüchtlinge | © Helvetas/Alverto Lores
Together with its partners Helvetas provided the displaced people from Ukraine with hot meals, mattresses, hygiene items, as well as money credits and vouchers to buy essentials. © Helvetas/Alverto Lores
© Helvetas / Patrick Rohr
A Moldovan host family in Căuşeni that has taken in a refugee family in their home and is financially supported by Helvetas – March 2022. © Helvetas / Patrick Rohr

Long-term cooperation in three areas

Now, the aim is to create long-term prospects. Helvetas has therefore, in addition to humanitarian response, extended its activities in three areas: reconstruction of damaged houses and infrastructure, enabling new job perspectives and support of community rooted projects.

1. Safe shelters: The reconstruction of damaged houses and infrastructure  

Helvetas supports the repair of war-damaged houses and water and sanitation systems, and provides the necessary insulation to get people through the cold winter (Repair Facilitation Ukraine project, REFAUK). Those in need receive technical support as well as cash to repair their homes and local infrastructure. Repair Hubs in Kyiv and Kharkiv Oblasts are providing guidance and lending tools. 

Since this project started in June 2022, 1950 displaced people were sheltered in refurbished, rehabilitated and equipped buildings, and more than 64 000 people have benefited from rehabilitated water, sanitation and energy systems. 

2. Financial independence: Promote economic development and generate new income 

In addition to houses and infrastructure, the war also destroyed businesses and retail chains, and many residents have lost their jobs, for example in Kharkiv and the region. Helvetas is therefore promoting training for professions that are currently urgently needed for reconstruction: Welders, painters, heating engineers with a focus on renewable energies, financial controllers, plumbers and plasterers. This provides people with an income and strengthens SMEs.

Helvetas provides trainings and grants and supports vocational education training (VET) capacities through in-kind goods replacing damaged or outdated technical equipment. In the longer term, institutional cooperation should improve vocational training curricula and practice. In addition to these trainings, we support online platforms that offer support for developing business ideas (Economic Resilience Programme, ERP).

Helvetas provides financial support towards the training of welders. Eleven "students" of different ages learn to weld every day for three hours. Welders will be needed to for infrastructure repair projects of buildings destroyed and damaged during the war.
© Iva Zimova/Panos Pictures
Many residents in Kharkiv and its region lost their jobs due to the Russian invasion. Thanks to the training they have a job perspective and can support Kharkiv to rebuild damaged infrastructure. © Iva Zimova/Panos Pictures
Helvetas is also strengthening online platforms, which offers market information, documentation and support for developing and implementing a business idea.

The Ukrainian agricultural and food industry is also heavily affected by the war – including the organic sector, which Helvetas supported before the war. This support continues. Organic farming families are contributing to healthy and sustainably grown products. Without support, the producers don't lose their livelihoods, and instead have opportunities to expand their business relationships and hire more workers. 

Helvetas implements the supraregional program RECONOMY also in Ukraine. Its main goal is to create more inclusive job opportunities and promote a green economy.  

In concrete terms RECONOMY in Ukraine supports to create inclusive jobs in ICT through improving business services and developing skills. We also strengthen the sector's resilience, for instance through partnership with the Beetroot Academy.  With our private partner and through digitalization we increase competitiveness and facilitate the growth of the agriculture and manufacturing sectors.  Additionally, to provide better income and employability in Energy Efficient Construction and Renovation, Helvetas has established a partnership with the Women’s Energy Club in Ukraine to lead transformative initiatives focused on cultivating female leadership within the energy sector through tailored support programs, strategic partnerships for opportunity creation, and comprehensive information resource provision, fostering inclusivity, sustainability, and scalable impact within and beyond Ukraine. Moreover, Helvetas promotes sustainability and resource efficiency in the textile and apparel sector in the Eastern Partnership countries by facilitating awareness raising and the dissemination of market information on sustainability to local textile and apparel makers.  Through partnership with the Ukrainian Office of Export and Entrepreneurship Promotion under the Ministry of Digital Transformation and UKRLEGPROM, a TCLF (Textiles, clothing, leather and footwear) association, we facilitate a collaborative effort focused on contributing to the sustainable and inclusive advancement of the textile and apparel sector in Ukraine. 

The program improves the supply side by reducing the skill gap and increasing employment opportunities; improves the demand side by strengthening financial and business services; and advocates for policies and regulations that promote inclusive economic development.   

3. Supporting community rooted projects 

While more than 90% of humanitarian aid is delivered by Ukrainian organizations, less than 1% of these organizations has direct access to international funding for their activities. Helvetas provides grants to locally led organizations for shelter and social safety net projects.

Ukrainian organizations that receive grants will receive support to fund their initiatives, as well as support to improve their organizational, technical and administrative capacities. This project will focus on small-scale or mid-sized organizations facing growth-related challenges to improve their resilience and direct access to funding. Organizations supported will be Ukrainian, as well as deeply community-rooted and focused on responding with an extensive understanding of the context and humanitarian needs. 

Approximately 64 300 people in conflict-affected cities have now access to water in adequate quality and quantity, 19 000 people suffering from power and gas shortages have access to collective heating points and over 30 000 people benefit from the repair hubs and grants for community initiatives.

Helvetas works closely with Swiss, Ukrainian and international organizations to achieve these grantmaking goals. 

Helvetas setzt auf zirkuläres Bauen: Nichts wird weggeworfen. Aus gebrauchten Paletten werden Bänke und Tische hergestellt. | © Iva Zímová/Panos Pictures
Helvetas relies on circular construction: nothing is thrown away. Benches and tables are made from used pallets – May 2023. © Iva Zímová/Panos Pictures

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© Helvetas / Arben Llapashtica
Armenia, Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Georgia, Kosovo, Moldova, North Macedonia, Serbia, Ukraine, Montenegro Education and Vocational Skills

Building Economies Where All Can Prosper

"You see, we have all the windows fixed" said Tonya Vasilivna. "We weren't here when shrapnells were flying everywhere and damaged our roof, windows, rooms. Now we have roof fixed and windows thanks to Helvetas and DESPRO Helvetas’ partner organization". | © Iva Zímová/Panos Pictures
Ukraine Humanitarian Response

Safe Shelters in Times of War

Ukraine Private Sector Development

Fair Opportunities for a Fresh Start in Business

Voice, Inclusion & Cohesion

In many countries where we work, men and women are unable to claim their rights and participate actively in decision-making processes.

Education and Vocational Skills

Lack of education perpetuates inequality because poor countries cannot compete economically without a skilled workforce.

Learning & Innovation

Building the capacities of staff and partners to effectively share what they know, to learn together and create effective solutions is crucial to our success.