07 June 2022

In less than three months, the war in Ukraine has caused extensive damage across the country and sparked massive displacement: more than 5.6 million people have been forced to abandon their homes and flee across international borders to safety, while over eight million others have been internally displaced. The violence has escalated rapidly and it remains difficult to predict the evolution of the conflict and its effect on lives, livelihoods, food security and nutrition.

Food security is one of the greatest challenges in this context. Agriculture has been severely disrupted throughout the country due to physical access constraints and damages to homes, productive assets, agricultural land, roads and other civilian infrastructure. It is uncertain whether Ukrainian farmers will be able to harvest existing crops, plant new ones or sustain livestock production as the war evolves and continues to disrupt supply chains, worsening hunger and malnutrition levels.


Local citizens with vegetable seeds for planting. Photo credit: GEF SGP Ukraine

Millions of people in Ukraine are still stranded in areas where the conflict is active, living in camps for internally displaced people. For them, life has become a question of figuring out how and when their next meal will arrive. Thus, it is extremely important to ensure that agricultural land in relatively safe regions are used by local smallholder farmers and agribusinesses and continue to produce food.

In response to this, the Small Grants Programme (SGP) – a corporate programme of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) that is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) – has issued US$ 250,000 in grant funding under its 7th Operational Phase to urgently address the socio-economic and environmental impacts of the conflict in Ukraine. This allocation will be used to assist communities’ early recovery actions, closely aligned with the UNDP Resilience Building and Recovery Programme for Ukraine. This support is consistent with the SGP’s Strategic Initiatives on sustainable agriculture and food security.


Start of sowing in Ukraine during the war. Photo credit: UkrInform

The funding will support community-based interventions focused on green recovery efforts, nature-based solutions, community-based adaptation, livelihood improvements and diversification, and social inclusion. SGP will support local communities in their efforts to ensure food security during the war, develop sustainable agriculture and adapt to climate change.

With support from SGP, the local network of civil society organizations “Green Zhytomyrschyna” held a series of initiatives to provide seeds and seedlings to over 250 local citizens and 60 internally displaced peoples in remote areas on the Polissya landscape in late March and early April. As a result, the initiatives ensured planting on 230 agricultural plots owned by small households. The initiatives also promoted a shift to sustainable agricultural practices, as the application of agroecological principles helps communities respond adaptively to environmental changes. This includes supporting sustainable land management practices, biodiversity, waste recycling, organic farming, and pest control through natural mechanisms.

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Remains of a cruise missile on a field in Chernihiv region. Photo credit: Andriy Kudabekov/Censor.net

The additional funding allocated by SGP to Ukraine will scale up these initial efforts that are led by civil society organizations in the midst of the war, and support complimentary actions in coordination with government and private sector.

Story by: Valentyna Kyrychenko, Programme Associate, GEF SGP Ukraine