Rinat Akhmetov Foundation's Food Aid Initiative

Image © Rinat Akhmetov Foundation

Sustainable Development goals

About the project

In 2014, an armed conflict erupted in Donbas region in the East Ukraine. The conflict has resulted in large numbers of casualties and has forced many Ukrainians to leave their homes and seek refuge in other regions. Around 13,000 people have died in the conflict, and around 30,000 have been injured .

The Rinat Akhmetov Foundation’s Humanitarian Centre was focused on providing emergency food and medical assistance as quickly as possible in response to the urgent humanitarian needs that the conflict created for the region’s population. The project’s activities covered the five most vulnerable categories: elderly, children, people with disabilities, vulnerable families, and internally displaced persons.

The main aim of the Food Aid Initiative (the main project of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation’s Humanitarian Centre) was to cover the essential food needs of vulnerable groups, and achieve food security. This was essential as salaries were not being paid in the conflict area, government benefits were unavailable, and shops, pharmacies and banks were all closed – leading to critical food shortages.

The Food Aid Initiative also included the involvement of volunteers to mobilise the distribution effort, which enabled the development of a wide distribution network and create long-term relationship with beneficiaries. It included providing vouchers to aid recipients to let them know when their next aid delivery was due. This approach made it easier to identify and contact potential research participants.

The Foundation commissioned Envoy Partnership to conduct a social value study. The scope of the study was limited to the Food Aid Initiative, and did not include the impact of other programmes like evacuation and psychological help run by the Foundation.

By focusing on social value, the study went beyond a traditional evaluation of an aid initiative. Many evaluations of humanitarian programmes analyse the efficiency of aid delivery and the outputs (quantity of activity) delivered. For example, they might examine how much food aid was delivered and whether it reached the intended beneficiaries. This study goes further by incorporating the perspectives of those affected, analysing the outcomes created, and placing a monetary value on those outcomes.

Headlines

In total, the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation’s Food Aid initiative created over USD 1 billion of social value, benefiting around 3.2 million people. This represents nearly two-thirds of the people affected by the conflict in Donbas. This is equivalent to UAH 30 billion of social value in 2018 values, converted from USD using market exchange rates.[1]

This value represents the things that matter to aid recipients and their friends and families: improvements in their health, well-being, financial situation, and their ability to remain in their own homes.

The value covers the following outcomes:

  • avoidance of starvation conditions
  • improved well-being
  • becoming displaced
  • avoiding removing children from school
  • improved financial situation

Certain impacts were beyond the scope of the evaluation, such as the wider economic impact of providing aid (and the impact on businesses and the local economy), and the breakdown in society (such as stealing, looting, and increases in violence) that might have happened without the food aid.

[1] If a purchasing power parity conversion is used, then the figure is USD 3.5 billion. If nominal rather than real values are used, the figures are UAH 20 billion, USD 870 million (market exchange rate), and USD 3.6 billion (purchasing power parity).

"In 2014, conflict came to Donbas. At that time, each of us thought about what to do and how to help the weakest and most vulnerable: pensioners, disabled people, children, and single mothers. In response, I established the Humanitarian Center. Its task is to save lives. To make the assistance that we provide more effective, we have united all those who have a soul, who have a heart, who are not indifferent to these sufferings and to the fate of the civilians of Donbas. We have combined the full potential of SCM’s enterprises, FC Shakhtar, and the Foundation. The Foundation's staff and volunteers worked 24 hours a day to help those in need to survive."
Rinat Akhmetov
Founder, Rinat Akhmetov Foundation

Learnings and challenges

Learnings

Before the study, only direct beneficiaries of the Food Aid Initiative were counted by the Foundation. One key learning from the study was that recipients actively shared products with relatives and friends; each recipient shared aid with just under three people. This means that 3.2 million gained access to food (which covers two third of those that are affected by conflict in total). Over 70% of whom  may have faced starvation conditions without the food aid.

The Foundation expected that health and security would be the main outcomes of the Initiative, but the study showed that Initiative’s work had a significant impact on the recipients’ wellbeing as well. According to the research, about 95% of recipients said that they felt they were cared for and felt that the food aid made them feel more valued and less isolated

Volunteers, who made a significant contribution to deliver Initiative’s activities, were not regarded as beneficiaries at the start of Initiative delivery. However, the study showed that volunteering helped the volunteers not to give up and to cope with the impact of the conflict, made them feel less isolated, allowed them to worry less about themselves, improved their life satisfaction, made them more optimistic about the future, and significantly improved their well-being.

Challenges

The main challenges to the study were the ongoing conflict and  the risk to life, especially close to the conflict zone and in the NGCA, which were outside of the control of the Ukrainian government. This made conducting face-to-face research in those areas not possible.

It was also a challenge to conduct face-to-face research in remote rural areas during the winter months.

Some recipients in the NGCA were cautious about taking part in research because of concerns that the authorities in the NGCA would not approve of the research.

“Social Value evaluation has proved its worth in the world, and we would like it to be used in Ukraine in all sectors, to make it a “new rule” for our initiatives, and to use it to establish the value created by the Foundation in the future.

The results of the study became the starting point in the Foundation's internal discussion on how Foundation can increase the benefits of its aid and its value in the future. The Rinat Akhmetov Foundation uses best practices in its work, develops and adapts them, and then shares this experience with the country. The Foundation became the first to apply the assessment of social value in Ukraine, and is ready to share its experiences of the methodology to organizations and government institutions.”
Natalia Yemchenko
Member of the Supervisory Board of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation

Social Value Matters 2020

Online discussion panel at Social Value Matters 2020: “Social Value, Humanitarian Aid, and Conflict Zones: Lessons from Ukraine” (English, 30th September 2020)

Social Value in Ukraine roundtable

Online discussion panel: “Social Impact Research. World practice, experience of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation and prospects of application in Ukraine.” (Russian, 19th October 2020)

Using the Results

    In March, 2021 – the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation and Envoy Partnership held an online lecture The Evaluation of Humanitarian Aid’s Social Impact. The lecture was organized for 20 students of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy as part of the Corporate Social Programs course. The news about the lecture was broadcasted on the TV channel, with a potential audience of 1.8 million people.
  • In September 2020 the brief and full versions of the study report were made available for review and download on the website of the Museum of Civilian Voices. The results of the study were directly disseminated among more than 30 key representatives of NGOs and the academic environment.
  • In September 2020, during Social Value Matters 2020, a session Social Value, Humanitarian Aid, and Conflict Zones: Lessons from Ukraine” was hosted by Social Value International, with contributions from the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation, Envoy Partnership, and IMPACT Initiatives. During the session participants explored the social value created for the people of Donbas by the Food Aid Initiative.
  • In October 2020, a discussion panel “Social Impact Research. World practice, experience of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation and prospects of application in Ukraine” was held in Kyiv. The panel was held for academics and NGO representatives in Ukraine, with participation of Social Value International’s CEO, Envoy Partnership and Rinat Akhmetov Foundation representatives.
  • The study report and promotional events were disseminated in c. 20 Ukrainian national media outlets, with total coverage of more than 135,000 unique online views and more than 4.8 million viewers on national television.

Within the framework of the project, a series of lectures for students is planned, as well as discussions among experts in order to share knowledge and to promote the social value methodology in Ukraine among government and the social sector.

Methodology

The study followed the social value methodology, as outlined by Social Value International. The main features of the methodology are outlined below.

During the qualitative research phase various approaches were taken, by different parties, to improve the validity of the research. A total of 55 in-depth interviews were conducted including:

  • 12 in-depth face-to-face interviews with Foundation representatives and external experts (with members of Supervisory Board, including the Chair; former heads, project and program managers of the Humanitarian Center; and external experts, for example, representative of UN Food Cluster) – to inform the development of the research approach and discussion guide for the other stakeholder groups
  • 35 in-depth qualitative interviews with recipients of food aid in two phase: a pilot phase and the main research phase
    • Pilot phase: four initial interviews (two conducted face-to-face, and two by telephone) to help determine the best research approaches and to test the discussion guide
  • Full research phases: 31 qualitative interviews, which were conducted by the telephone and focused on those who received a minimum of three packages of food aid. Ten interviews were conducted in the Government Control Areas (GCA), and 21 in Non-Government Controlled Areas (NGCA), across a mix of rural and urban areas. Interviews in the NGCA also included interviews in areas close to current conflict areas and areas not to close to these zone.
  • Additional interviews: Nine additional interviews were conducted via Skype with Foundation beneficiaries, while they were waiting for food aid at the distribution centre.
  • Interviews with volunteers: both face-to-face interviews and interviews via Skype with volunteers who had played an active role in the aid distribution
  • Analysis of a range of qualitative research data which had been collected by the Foundation at an earlier stage, including the transcripts of videos and phone calls to the Foundation’s hotline.

The Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) conducted a quantitative survey with beneficiaries of the Food Aid Initiative:

  • The CATI-approach random survey for direct beneficiates was used to quantify the outcomes that were identified during the qualitative research. In total, 1,601 respondents were surveyed in both GCA and NGCA of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, split according to the distribution of aid recipients (30 percent in GCA and 70 percent in NGCA). Additional interviews were conducted with disabled people and families, to increase the statistical significance of the results for these sub-groups. The sampling also took into account geography (urban or rural), proximity to the conflict, and the quantity of packages received (those receiving 5 to 20 packages and those that received more than 20 packages).
  • An online survey was conducted of volunteers who had contributed towards the Food Aid Initiative. The survey was taken by 58 volunteers, of whom 48 completed the survey. Of the volunteers who completed the survey, around two thirds volunteered by distributing aid from a distribution centre, one third helped pack food parcels, and around one in ten formed part of a mobile delivery team. Around two-thirds were female, and around two-thirds were in the 30-49 age bracket.

Secondary research was used to support the monetisation of outcomes. In particular:

  • Data on Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) and Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) was drawn from the World Health Organisation, and from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.
  • Data from the World Food Programme was used to calculate the market value of food products in the conflict areas.
  • Data from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) was used for the monetary values of the outcomes created when people are internally displaced.
  • Data from Democracy House was used to estimate schooling costs.

In addition, data from the World Bank was used for currency conversions, and a wide variety of sources were drawn on by the research team to get greater context of the situation in Donbas and the impacts of conflict on civilian populations.

Most outcomes were given a monetary value through a healthcare economics approach, drawing on techniques used by the World Health Organisation, World Bank, and others. Health and well-being outcomes were converted into Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) or Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs). These were given a monetary value equivalent of 2 x Gross National Income per Capita.