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Case Study

Call for Communication, Collaboration, and Cash: Perceptions of aid in Ukraine

February 2023 — By Ground Truth Solutions

People in Ukraine have relatively low expectations of how aid should be provided, potentially because most people in Ukraine, except people living in eastern Ukraine, had little experience with humanitarian aid before the full-scale February 2022 invasion. Qualitative enquiry helped us understand better why expectations were low, and what people do find important when it comes to how aid is provided. People want to know more about how aid provision works: how money is spent, how to access assistance, and how decisions are made about who gets what. But an overload of information in general leaves them confused about what news they can trust. People – mainly older persons – explain that while they appreciate the highly digitised humanitarian response, they need offline interaction too. Most people would like to be asked about their needs, and look for ways to connect with aid providers, especially when they have specific questions for humanitarians.

Focus group participants recognised that certain groups receive more attention from aid workers, including older persons, persons with disabilities, families with small children, and internally displaced persons (IDPs). But despite these efforts, people living in rural areas and older persons feel left behind. They find it more difficult to access aid than other groups, mainly because of this strong focus on digital communication. Older persons ask for offline registration and interaction because of a lack of digital skills, while rural communities are struggling because of the attacks on energy infrastructure and looted smartphones and computers, leaving them in need of in-person interaction as well.

Ground Truth Solutions (GTS), funded by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) and in collaboration with Open Space Works Cooperative and the Kyiv International Institute for Sociology, spoke to over 2,000 people in Ukraine between September and December 2022. Through quantitative phone surveys and qualitative group discussions and interviews with affected people and local humanitarian agencies, we aimed to understand people’s views on access to assistance, aid-seeking behaviour, information access, knowledge of feedback mechanisms, fairness and we asked what representatives of local aid organisations want from the humanitarian response. After our data collection we organised two virtual workshops with national and international aid workers to discuss the findings and co-create recommendations.