UN DEVELOPMENT INDEX*Rank: 77 out of 191
Thematic focusHumanitarian Response
Education and Vocational Skills
Partnership & Capacity Development
Market Systems Development
Agriculture and Nutrition
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).
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).
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.
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.