Image © Rinat Akhmetov Foundation
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.
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.
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:
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.
 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).
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.
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.
Online discussion panel at Social Value Matters 2020: “Social Value, Humanitarian Aid, and Conflict Zones: Lessons from Ukraine” (English, 30th September 2020)
Online discussion panel: “Social Impact Research. World practice, experience of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation and prospects of application in Ukraine.” (Russian, 19th October 2020)
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.
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:
The Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) conducted a quantitative survey with beneficiaries of the Food Aid Initiative:
Secondary research was used to support the monetisation of outcomes. In particular:
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.
© Rinat Akhmetov Foundation