Leverage Behavioural Science to Support for Children and Families Affected by the Ukraine Crisis - UNICEF

March 1, 2023


In February 2022, Ukraine became the epicenter of one of the world’s largest human displacements following the Russian invasion. This crisis predominantly affected women and children, with more than 90% of refugees crossing international borders belonging to these vulnerable groups. Amidst the turmoil, refugees encountered substantial challenges, including navigating host countries marked by uncertainty, barriers to essential services, and a dearth of information. These circumstances prompted the UNICEF Emergency Response Office in Poland to employ social and behavioral science approaches, alongside human-centered methodologies, to address the behavioral barriers hindering refugees from adopting positive practices and accessing services in host countries. This initiative sought not only to assist refugees but also to facilitate their integration into host communities.

Triangle’s Assignment

  • Definition of Target Behavior and Context: The initial phase of the research involved narrowing down the focus to specific target behaviors and contexts. This was achieved through consultations with UNICEF’s Social and Behavior Change (SBC) team and other relevant stakeholders. Remote workshops were organized to further refine priority areas and identify specific target behaviors. Additional key informant interviews were conducted to solidify the selection of priority areas and target behaviors.
  • Understanding Behavioral Barriers: To comprehend the behavioral barriers surrounding the target behaviors affecting Ukrainian refugees, qualitative and quantitative interviews were conducted through research suppliers and local partners. These interviews and participant observations aimed to gain insights into the context, end-user journey for service uptake, realities of service delivery, and perceptions and attitudes of the target populations. Existing evidence, reports, policies, and literature related to similar case studies were reviewed. Behavioral maps for key personas were created to succinctly outline the barriers and other behavioral components.
  • Development of Behavioral Interventions and Recommendations: The research included a short desk review to identify potential interventions. Co-creation workshops were held, involving UNICEF staff and relevant country stakeholders, to present initial findings and behavioral insights in key areas. These insights informed the development of interventions, which were further refined through desk work for prototyping.
  • Supporting Testing and Implementation: To ensure the effective testing and implementation of interventions, training sessions were conducted for implementing partners. These sessions, co-delivered by UNICEF staff and the vendor, aimed to familiarize partners with project objectives. Ongoing support was provided through bi-weekly calls to teams responsible for prototyping and testing/evaluating interventions. A manual offering guidance on testing the interventions was prepared.
  • Analysis and Recommendations for Scaling Up: Qualitative and quantitative data resulting from testing activities were analyzed. A summary of key findings and actionable recommendations was prepared. These findings and recommendations were presented to stakeholders as deemed appropriate in the research process.

Leverage Behavioural Science to Support for Children and Families Affected by the Ukraine Crisis


March 2023 – December 2023

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