The escalation of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, combined with harsh winter temperatures, has exacerbated living conditions for affected communities. In response, the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement has come together, with the Ukrainian Red Cross Society at its forefront, to deliver effective assistance to individuals with limited access to essential goods and services. Part of this endeavour has been the development of a customized digital solution to tackle diverse challenges in the field of cash assistance for the National Society’s regional branches, facilitated by a group effort of different components within the Netherlands Red Cross and funded by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC)’s emergency appeal, as well as the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Effective cash assistance in all regions – managed by the Ukrainian Red Cross Society

Amid the complexities of the crisis, the Ukrainian Red Cross Society has faced numerous obstacles to delivering cash assistance at regional level effectively and transparently, ranging from data management inefficiencies to a lack of unified systems and reporting mechanisms across regional branches. Recognizing these challenges, the Netherlands Red Cross’ data and digital initiative, 510, designed a cash information management system tailored to the National Society’s unique requirements.

Figure 1: schematic view of the cash assistance information management system, showing its main components and users

This solution, built on existing infrastructure and utilising Ukrainian open-source technology EspoCRM to manage requests and feedback, aims to streamline data management, enhance accountability, and enable the Ukrainian Red Cross Society to coordinate cash assistance programmes at local level following a unified approach. Combined with a cash platform which the National Society is already familiar with, the system is easy to navigate and cost-efficient. Importantly, it provides the Ukrainian Red Cross Society with the autonomy to dynamically collaborate with its branches and navigate cash assistance delivery independently, defying difficult circumstances.

“The development of the module for cash programmes in EspoCRM allowed our cash team to effectively manage the project implementation at regional level. Branches can now collect, structure, clean, process and verify data for payments independently, speeding up the delivery of assistance to vulnerable populations.”

Olena Skrypnikova, Acting Head of Cash and Voucher Assistance at the Ukrainian Red Cross Society

Translating funding into humanitarian impact

A key player in this project is the Netherlands Red Cross which coordinates and manages funds for crisis and emergency operations worldwide. Acting as a bridge between funds and implementing partners, the Netherlands Red Cross allocates resources to the most suitable partners.

“We manage the funds for different crisis responses to provide support as fast as possible, because the emergency is today and therefore needs have to be met today. We move quickly in determining the most suitable responder to provide support in-country.”

Andrea Montenegro Vargas, Disaster Response and Surge Coordinator at the Netherlands Red Cross

With a focus on rapid response, the Netherlands Red Cross has contributed financial and human resources to the IFRC’s emergency appeal. The National Society also supports projects by the Ukrainian Red Cross Society and partners such as the Luxembourg Red Cross and the Swedish Red Cross, which aim to strengthen humanitarian assistance in Ukraine and other impacted countries. Trusting in the capacity of partners to identify and address the most pressing needs locally, the Netherlands Red Cross’ behind-the-scenes work focuses on facilitating support to the Ukrainian Red Cross Society, underscoring its role as a crucial link to translate funds into humanitarian efforts.

The power of collaboration

As part of the Netherlands Red Cross’ human resources-related contributions to this initiative, 510 is responsible for supporting the technical implementation of the cash assistance system, from its development to ensuring its seamless integration with existing platforms. On top, the 510 team provides continuous technical support to the Ukrainian Red Cross Society and its partners, including several visits to Ukraine to conduct user tests investigating the system’s ease of use, and train regional coordinators on operating the system.

Netherlands Red Cross data scientist Jacopo Margutti delivers training on the use of the cash assistance system to participants from 12 Ukrainian Red Cross Society branches in Lviv, Ukraine, November 2023. © 510

The Ukrainian Red Cross Society has provided feedback on the system’s development, facilitated user testing and trainings, and overseen the migration to the new information management system by engaging with regional branches and partner organizations. Now that the trainings are completed, the National Society is the sole owner of the system, with the autonomy to manage all cash assistance programmes across the country.

The IFRC plays a central coordinating role between the Ukrainian Red Cross Society, partner National Societies and other stakeholders, as well as providing funding to ensure the initiative’s sustainability and impact.

“The partnership between the Ukrainian Red Cross Society, the Netherlands Red Cross and IFRC is a great example of strong coordination, innovation, and digital transformation. In Ukraine, we are collectively leveraging the expertise of the Red Cross Red Crescent network to enable knowledge-sharing that will impact the quality of service delivery to those affected.”

Violaine Des Rosiers, Operations Manager at IFRC in Ukraine
Netherlands Red Cross technical project coordinator Pim Kemperman delivers training on the use of the cash assistance system to participants from the Ukrainian Red Cross Society, the British Red Cross and the Danish Red Cross in Kyiv, Ukraine, November 2023. © 510

To date, 62 Ukrainian Red Cross Society staff has been trained to use the cash assistance system. Up until March 2024, 1,462 logins into EspoCRM were recorded, resulting in 4,305 payments made across the country.

What’s next?

In November 2023, a pilot for the new information management system was rolled out in form of a winterization cash assistance programme, enabling home-based care for 6,000 elderly people and people with disabilities. Now that this pilot is operational, the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement remains committed to extending the system to other programmes run by the Ukrainian Red Cross Society, accompanied by opportunities for continuous improvement to ensure that interventions are responsive to the evolving needs of affected communities.

The collaborative efforts of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, bolstered by the coordination and expertise of the Netherlands Red Cross, exemplify the power of partnership in the field of cash assistance. Hereby, innovative, simple-to-navigate digital solutions enable the Ukrainian Red Cross Society to quickly, efficiently and transparently provide cash assistance to those affected by the crisis.

We want to hear from you!

Are you interested in collaborating with us on similar solutions in the field of Cash and Voucher Assistance, tailored to your context? Please reach out to: 

Service Coordinator, Cash and Voucher Assistance: Angelina Savchuk