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Aligning Humanitarian Assistance with Social Protection Gaps

The Collaborative Cash Delivery Network (CCD) partnered up with Ukraine Cash Consortium (UCC) to build on CCD's comprehensive mapping of cash benefits provided by the national social protection (SP) system in Ukraine (a live filterable repository accessible here and an infographic shown in Figure 1 ). The discussion paper identifies various programme options that can inform the design of humanitarian cash assistance programming to better align with and complement the existing Ukrainian social protection system. The exercise first started with the facilitation of a workshop on 4 July 2023 that brought together social protection and cash practitioners from CCD Community of Practice members, UCC consortium members, UN agencies and other relevant stakeholders working in Ukraine.

The discussion paper (authored by Clara Decamps, Social Protection Advisor of the CCD Network and Louisa Lippi, Social Protection Advisor (consultant) for UCC) builds on the workshop. It presents humanitarian organisations with programme design options for humanitarian cash programming to better align with and complement the existing cash benefits offered by the social protection system in Ukraine. The paper is accompanied by a summary tool highlighting the alignment options for each lifecycle stage (maternity to old-age plus disability across the life-course).

The methodology undertaken to analyse the gaps in the Ukrainian social protection system was developed with the intention to be easily replicated by humanitarian actors active in the field, i.e., non-cumbersome framework analysis utilising publicly available data (see Figure 3). Overall, the social protection programmes are analysed according to the lifecycle approach to coincide with the Government's social protection framework. The analysis prioritises long-term, contributory and non-contributory programmes most relevant to an individual's or household's long-term well-being. The analysis triangulated results from an analysis of coverage of programmes (specifically, the legal coverage, the effective coverage, and the coverage of the transfer values to meet the statutory and actual subsistence minimums) and an analysis of existing unmet needs to draw out the gaps within the social protection system that the humanitarian response could fill.

Ukraine has a comprehensive social protection system that provides numerous benefits to address different lifecycle contingencies and poverty. It has also historically demonstrated its ability to respond to shocks by establishing specific programmes to respond to shocks. For instance, it introduced IDP programmes at the beginning of the conflict in 2014 and again in 2022, as well as different programmes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the ongoing emergencies, the social protection system has remained operational and adaptable, except in active hostilities or occupation areas where the system's functionality is highly limited or suspended. It has continued to register people in person and, through the introduction of new online platforms, issue payments to claimants and introduce new programs for people who have been displaced and/or lost livelihoods. The system has been able to be quickly legally adapted to expand eligibility criteria throughout the duration of Martial law, to create new social protection programmes altogether to meet the needs of conflict-affected individuals, and to alleviate access barriers by, for example, introducing digital registration procedures or allowing persons without a hard copy of their national identification document to register as IDPs.

However, as highlighted throughout this paper, key gaps in coverage remain, most notably,

  • The lack of universal coverage of children, the lack of programmes able to cover conflict-affected households who are not IDPs (e.g. returnees and non-displaced households),

  • the transfer values of social protection programmes – both contributory and non-contributory - not having been adjusted in 2023 to account for inflation and other rising living costs (as exemplified by the growing differences between the statutory and actual subsistence minimums), and,

  • The subsistence minimum for persons with disabilities (people unable to work) does not account for additional costs associated with disability.

Humanitarian actors play a crucial role in helping fill these gaps in the short-term, and their cooperation with development actors along with national and local Government is necessary to ensure principles of social inclusion are reflected throughout response, recovery, and reconstruction efforts and to ensure greater coverage by humanitarian assistance as well as more adequate, predictable, sustainable and cost-effective support to people in need of assistance.

This paper highlights how humanitarian organisations can fill the gaps within the national government-led social protection system. The alignment options should be considered while acknowledging the geographic targeting recommendations issued by the Cash Working Group and all options can be further restricted in scope if required. The options are meant to provide a narrowed scope of design for humanitarian organisations to consider. Still, they are not exhaustive in nature and are highly malleable to the priorities and objectives of each organisation.

This discussion paper and its summary aim to be live documents to be continuously updated according to new humanitarian and social protection developments.

Main Report:

UCC CCD_main report
Download PDF • 4.77MB

Summary Tools Report:

Download PDF • 2.56MB

Written by Clara Decamps, CCD Social Protection Advisor.

Image credit: Mercy Corps

CCD, Mercy Corps, NRC, People In Need and USAID Logos



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