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Rapid Reflection on the Optimal Use of CVA for the Ukraine Response by DEC Member Charities and their Partners

December 2023 — By Key Aid Consulting, Disaster Emergency Committee

Since February 2022, Ukraine and the neighbouring countries are facing a humanitarian crisis of unparalleled scale, ranking among the fastest-growing crises observed in the past decade and the largest in Europe since the end of World War II. In the first two months of conflict, more than 30 percent of Ukraine’s population had been coercively displaced and by fall 2023, 6,240,400 refugees had left Ukraine and 3,674,000 people were internally displaced.

Thanks to a uniquely conducive environment across Moldova, Poland, Romania and Ukraine, the Ukraine response witnessed the fastest and largest cash programming scaleup in history. In 2023, in locations where it is contextually and operationally feasible, cash transfers have been used at scale to cover war-affected households needs. Based on a highly conducive environment for CVA, with well-functioning markets and strong financial and digital infrastructure, and to the nature of needs and vulnerabilities, cash transfers have been prioritized by the humanitarian community in Ukraine as the preferred and default response modality wherever feasible.

In Ukraine, the fastest and largest cash programming scale-up in history disbursed US$1.7 billion as CVA between February 2022 and October 2023, with Multi-Purpose Cash Assistance (MPCA) representing 46 percent of the total 2022 Ukraine Flash Appeal and 23 percent of the 2023 Appeal. In Moldova, Poland and Romania, CVA funding requirements represent 27 percent of the regional requirement of the 2023 Regional Refugee Response Plan. DEC member charities and their partners have used Cash and Voucher assistance at scale in their response. CVA represents 65 percent of programme expenditure while MPCA 26 per cent.

This paper reflects on the optimal use of CVA by DEC member charities and their partners, more than one year into the crisis in Moldova, Poland, Romania and Ukraine. The two focus research areas are: i) the inclusivity of targeting mechanisms used to reach the most in need, and ii) the extent to which CVA delivery was locally-led. The paper draws from 28 semi-structured key informants’ interviews with key cash stakeholders, a sectoral CVA mapping completed by 20 DEC members and partners and a desk review of available literature.