UNICEF’s humanitarian cash assistance program has now reached more than 350,000 children in Ukraine. The ‘Spilno’ program, launched on 31 March 2022 together with the Ministry of Social Policy, was created to address the needs of families with children, who are among the most vulnerable groups in Ukraine. Since then, UNICEF has distributed US$125 million and reached 350,000 children, including 35,000 with disabilities, living in 120,000 households.
Families can register for assistance and receive a fast response through an online platform, with successful applicants receiving an unconditional grant.
“This program is about helping families in a crisis do what they believe is best for their children,” said Murat Sahin, UNICEF Representative in Ukraine. “No one is in a better position to decide how to get the most out of this support than a parent or guardian.”
The Spilno programme prioritizes families with three or more children and those raising at least one child with a disability across Ukraine. The target beneficiary group was based on a 2020 child poverty report, which found that 47 per cent of families in Ukraine were living in poverty. Among these, 81 per cent of households with three or more children lived below the national poverty line.
Accountability to affected populations is a key principle of the Spilno programme. A dedicated hotline (0 800 600 017), created to assist those who experience difficulties in applying online, has been instrumental in supporting the application process and consulting vulnerable families about cash grants.
The programme is designed to support the government’s national social protection system. UNICEF works closely with the Ministry of Social Policy, the Ministry of Digital Transformation and other humanitarian actors to enable linkages between humanitarian cash transfers and government social protection schemes. For instance, government social workers have been mobilised in several regions of Ukraine to support self-registration for the Spilno programme.
“The UNICEF cash program has become an effective tool for supporting families with children in this extremely challenging time and for supporting the entire country,” said Oksana Zholnovych, Minister of Social Policy of Ukraine. “The consolidation of the efforts of the international aid program and the Ministry of Social Policy proves that only together can we effectively overcome challenges and ensure the well-being of children and families. In this cooperation, the state helped to digitize, administer the process, and verify the data, so that assistance can benefit those who need it most. We are sincerely grateful to UNICEF for this financial support for Ukrainian families with children and willingness to work in synergy. We count on the further expansion of cooperation in order to address the challenges of war faced by children and families.”
Vira, her husband and their three children fled their home in eastern Ukraine and sought refuge in a modular container town for displaced families in the western city of Lviv.
“We were so desperate we sold our rings just to buy some food,” says Vira. “With the money we received through the Spilno cash assistance programme, we have enough to eat and buy medication.”
The Spilno cash programme would not be possible without funding provided by the governments of Italy, Spain, the Swedish International Development Agency, the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), and the European Union, as well as support from businesses and caring individuals from all around the world.