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Multipurpose Cash Assistance in Ukraine: How do DEC member agencies operate the sustainability and shock-responsiveness of multipurpose cash assistance in Ukraine?

24 March 2023 — By Chloe Rudnicki, Ioanna A. Schuppert, Vlada Yaremenko, Grace Yuan

The humanitarian response following the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, triggered the fastest and largest scale-up of cash programming in humanitarian history. Humanitarian actors transferred over US$1.2 billion in the form of multipurpose cash assistance (MPCA) to approximately 6 million people within the first year of the response (CWG, 2023). Reflecting the growing popularity of cash, all DEC Member Agencies operating in Ukraine have used MPCA at some point since the launch of the Secretariat’s Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal on March 3, 2022. The speed and size of the scale-up suggest that a meaningful reflection on the strengths and shortcomings of the Ukraine humanitarian response starts with MPCA. While extensive international guidelines exist for cash-based interventions, these should be adapted to reflect the existence of a functioning central government and social protection system (SPS).

This report examines thirteen DEC Member Agencies’ implementation of MPCA and other cash-based modalities since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine in February 2022. Findings centre on interviews with ten of thirteen implementing agencies. As Member Agencies enter the second year of the response, they can critically reflect on the role MPCA and cash assistance more broadly can and should play within a complex emergency. How Member Agencies understand ‘sustainability’ and ‘shock-responsiveness’ in the context of cash assistance will inform their approach as the conflict continues, needs evolve, and agencies grapple with the reality of providing assistance designed for the short-term alleviation of needs just the short-term design of emergency relief for longer-term needs.