Paper: Locally driven humanitarian response in Ukraine: challenges and learnings

Paper details

Paper authors Maryana Zaviyska
In panel on Local humanitarian responses to Ukrainian refugees - the case of Eastern Europe
Paper presenter(s) will be presenting In-Person / Online


Since 2014 Ukraine has been an atypical humanitarian context in several ways. Unlike most crisis contexts, it is a middle-income country with a developed economy and decent living standards. At the same time in 2014 Ukrainian laws and systems were exposed as inadequate and humanitarian organisations faced multiple hurdles to setting up operations. Due to the access challenges, in 2016 the majority of local NGOs engaged into the humanitarian response shifted from emergency assistance to longer-term, resilience-oriented programming.

Contrary to 2014-2016 the well-funded 2022 humanitarian response (UNOCHA, 2022) aimed to provide aid based on the views and expectations of people affected by war (UNOCHA, 2022). Since the very beginning of the full-scale war in Ukraine humanitarian organisations communicated that they are committed to do different (CAFOD, Christian Aid, et al. July 2022 this time. Unlike in 2014-2016 the current humanitarian response managed to engage a big number of internal and external actors, from ordinary citizens to global actors.

In our paper we would like to investigate and reflect on how the bottom-up humanitarian initiatives in Ukraine are working in the most challenging locations and changing the humanitarian practices, based on our qualitative perception studies of humanitarian aid in Ukraine as well as analysis of localisation narratives that are present in Ukraine.

We will summarise our in-depth research on Ukrainian civil society initiatives in different locations in Ukraine – frontline communities, occupied territories, locations hosting internally displaced people and highlight challenges and recommendations on locally-driven humanitarian response.