UKRAINE: Shelter & NFI Needs Assessment
Thursday, September 17, 2015
Shelter Cluster

Conflict broke out in Ukraine in early 2014, following a series protests across major cities in the east of the country. Despite two successive ceasefires in September 2014 and February 2015, the humanitarian situation has continued to deteriorate, affecting an estimated 5.2 million people through the breakdown of law and order, separation of families and communities, the destruction of infrastructure and disruption to essential services.
The crisis in has caused the internal displacement of more than 1.4 million people from Luhansk, Donetsk and Crimea, the majority of whom have fled to neighbouring areas in eastern Ukraine. Internal displacement has intensified the need for food, shelter, and other essential assistance in both conflict-affected areas and those areas hosting large numbers of IDPs. In the areas of Kharkiv, Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia and Dnipropetrovsk, the Ministry of Social Policy (MoSP) registered 1,082,960 IDPs as of August 2015. Moreover humanitarian access remains limited in conflict affected and Non-Government Controlled Areas (NGCAs), particularly Luhansk oblast, which is impeding full knowledge of the situation.
REACH was deployed to Ukraine in the framework of its on-going partnership with the Global Shelter Cluster to facilitate an assessment of Emergency Shelter and Non-Food Item (NFI) needs between May and July 2015. The assessment sought to provide representative quantitative information about the Shelter and NFI needs of IDP households in five oblasts (Kharkiv, Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia and Dnipropetrovsk) across eastern Ukraine, and to establish a baseline of needs, against which the humanitarian shelter and NFI response can be monitored and tailored.
The assessment was conducted at household level, targeting both registered and unregistered IDPs. Due to a lack of information on the location of IDPs, community-level key informants were used to help identify concentrations of displaced households in the assessed areas. While steps were taken to limit selection bias, it is likely that more visible IDPs, such as those living in collective accommodation, may have been over-represented in some cases, while less visible IDPs may have been excluded from the study.
Data was collected between 12 June – 10 July by REACH staff and cluster members, including the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), who together collected a representative sample of 2573 household interviews.
Key findings from the assessment are presented below:


The displaced population is predominantly female, with many adult males having stayed behind to look after property and assets in their area of origin. As a result, many displaced households are separated from immediate family members, although a significant proportion of households (25.5%) reported temporary returns to their area of origin, suggesting a regular flow of information and people in both directions.
IDPs chose their current location for several of reasons, primarily better security and the presence of family and friends. Other reported pull factors include access to livelihoods and services, albeit it to a far lesser degree, with personal networks, and by default access to shelter, prioritised over income and service access.
Overall, the displacement situation was found to be relatively stable, with very few households reporting arrival in their current location since March 2015, the majority having been displaced for between 10-15 months. Moreover, only a very small proportion of IDPs (6.2%) reported the intention to move in the coming three months.

Shelter and Non-food Items

The majority of IDP households were living in rented or hosted accommodation, with smaller proportions in owned accommodation, collective shelter, and hotels. Shared accommodation was common, particularly for individuals and smaller households, with a third of all displaced households reporting that they shared accommodation with at least one other household.
Significant proportions of IDPs reported live in difficult shelter conditions, with many households reporting insufficient access to hot and cold running water, heating, insulation and waterproofing, particularly in rural areas. Overcrowding was also common, although significant variation was observed between the assessed oblasts. When these indicators were combined into a shelter conditions score, the majority of assessed IDPs live in accommodation scoring either adequate (34.1%) or fair (24.6%). Similar proportions fall into the poor (18.5%) and inadequate (19.5%) categories. The remaining 3.3% fell into the extremely vulnerable category of households whose shelters fail to meet many key indicators and are likely to require urgent assistance. Again, considerable variation was observed between shelter conditions across the assessed oblasts, with around two thirds of households in Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk scoring adequate or fair, compared to only 40% of households in Zaporizhia.
Care should be taken however to view these findings in context, with the majoirty of housing in Ukraine between 30 and 60 years old and a significant proportion in poor condition prior to the crisis. According to a study conducted by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe in 2013, much of Ukraine’s housing stock is suffering from deferred or bad maintenance, unsafe and in need of urgent repair.
The majority of IDP households reported either to own or to have access to basic items such as mattresses, blankets and bed sheets. While households across all assessed oblasts enjoyed similar access to NFIs, some variation was seen between richer and poorer families, whose comparative lack of resources appeared to affect their ability to access basic items.

Rent and income

A third of urban households and almost half of rural households paid no rent at all for their accommodation. For those who did pay rent, prices varied widely. These IDPs faced greater uncertainty about whether they could stay in their current accommodation, particularly in urban areas where prices are higher. One third of all households paying rent reported having insufficient funds to afford their rent for more than six months, and an additional third of IDPs did not know how long their funds would last. One in five IDP households reported that they were certain to be threatened with eviction.
While social benefits and payments under resolution 505 appear to be an important source of income for many IDP households, receipt of such assistance appears to be closely related to registration with MoSP. This leaves unregistered households, who are already less visible to government and humanitarian actors, among the more vulnerable.
Given that private funds were the main sources used to pay for and rent and non-food items, and over two thirds of households reported earning no income from work in the month prior to assessment, the depletion of personal funds and a lack of livelihood opportunities is likely to become an increasing issue in the coming months.
Findings point to a situation in which IDPs are becoming increasingly vulnerable, with many living in sub-standard conditions and facing protracted displacement. As the humanitarian response makes the transition from the emergency phase to a mid-term more protracted approach, it is vital that the approach and modality of assistance become increasingly focused on resilience-based programming, to support households and communities to cope in the longer term.