In the shadow of war, an urgent need to improve social services to millions of displaced Ukrainians in need

August 30, 2022
Photo credit: Olga Sadova / UNDP Ukraine

Lviv, Ukraine, 30 August 2022 – Millions of Ukrainians have been displaced from their homes and are in urgent  need of social services in their host communities, often putting a heavy strain on the local government budgets. To address this challenge, representatives from the Office of the President of Ukraine, the Ministry of Social Policy, UNDP, experts from regional centers of social services, local councils and civil society organizations met on 26 August in Lviv. The attention focused on developing a new model of procuring and financing social services, which the Ministry of Social Policy intends to introduce by the end of 2022.

The war has pushed millions of people into poverty and in need of government services. These include about 1.4 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) from groups with limited mobility, including 400,000 elderly people, 80,000 people with disabilities and 329,000 families in difficult circumstances.  

Yulia Sokolovska, Deputy Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, said the system of procurement and financing of social services urgently needs modernization. "Millions of people are fleeing the war, finding refuge in other communities,” she said. “But the existing system of financing social services was not designed for this scenario, and currently in the host communities there are no available funds to support the needs of the newly-arrived IDPs."

Oksana Zholnovych, Minister of Social Policy of Ukraine, said fortunately the decentralization reform improved the situation with fiscal transfers to community budgets, but the existing model of financing social services did not foresee millions of Ukrainians forced to leave their homes and settle in other regions. “Local budgets were designed to meet the needs of local populations,” she said. “They were not designed to meet changing needs and the rapid growth in the number of recipients."

Olena Ursu, Head of the UNDP Democratic Governance Team, said that her agency has many years of experience in supporting the Government of Ukraine, and in particular the Ministry of Social Policy, in implementing social service reforms. "And since February 2022, UNDP has been supporting the  Ministry of Digital Transformation, to make all forms of social assistance for Ukrainians available through digital channels in wartime conditions,” she said. “As part of this strategic partnership with the Ministry of Social Policy, we are also providing expert support to improve legislation on the provision of social services in emergency situations, optimizing the financing system, and developing the capacity of social service providers through online training opportunities and other means.”

It is expected that the new model will be ready by the end of 2022 and will become an important step towards the start of a full-scale reform of the financing and provision of social services.

Media enquiries: Yulia Samus, UNDP Ukraine Communications Lead;