In the Hour of Need: Social assistance helps Moldova's vulnerable families
07 September 2023
Bravicea village in Calarasi region is located 67 km away from Moldova’s capital Chisinau.
Some kilometers away from the village center, on a winding unpaved road, a young three-year-old child, Olesea, welcomes us joyfully in front of a green gate. "We are only five, but we have many chickens" she tells us enthusiastically.
Of the 3100 inhabitants in the village, 60 families raise three and more children. Olesea’s parents- Alexei and Marina Otgun are one of those families. With a childhood accident leaving Alexei with a disability and his main job being a seasonal worker in the village, the family must contend with medical costs in addition to rising day-to-day food and living expenses for their children.
They live in a house offered by some villagers who live overseas. Although extremely modest, the house is clean inside and the garden is neat and full of vegetable beds. A lump of freshly made cheese hangs under the shed. With a small monthly income; Alexei and Marina do their best to have as much as possible grown in the garden so that they can buy less.
Alexei says, “I work in the garden together with Marina, I fixed the house so we can live here until we have our own. We keep goats, pigs, rabbits, chickens to feed ourselves.”
Even with Marina being responsible for domestic and child care, social benefits and Alexei’s earnings combined give the family hardly MDL 10000( US$ 560 approximately) a month. Childcare isn’t affordable and the family relies on their relatives to help from time to time. After they divide their meagre income for nappies, electricity, wood for winter, medicine and hygienic products, bread and other needs for children, there is no money left to be put aside for their own house or to buy something that is more costly. It is even more difficult in winter.
The Otgun family became one among 56000 vulnerable families, who received emergency financial assistance in the amount of MDL 4900 (US$275 approx) during November 2022 - May 2023 within the UN Moldova Solidarity Program guided and supported by the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Republic of Moldova.
The project was implemented by five UN Agencies: the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN World Food Program (WFP). The total value of the financial assistance provided to vulnerable families was US$ 14 million.
The assistance was specifically targeted towards families who had a member with disabilities, pregnant or breastfeeding, single parent families or those with many children, who are likely to be left behind with rapid economic growth. With this timely support, the families could meet their essential needs in the cold period of the year.
“When UN agencies join hands and work together as one, it ensures that our support is complimentary and effectively supports the delivery of Government’s ambition. This isn’t simply a process of coordination, but in reality it means that the support of the joint programming of the UN agencies and the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection has a direct and immediate impact on families and communities. It means we are able to engage the most vulnerable in the community and to ensure that no one person is left behind,” considers Simon Springett, the Resident Coordinator of UN in Moldova.
The program is part of the UN Moldova Socio-Economic Offer to respond to the impact of the war in Ukraine developed under the guidance and coordination of the Resident Coordinator Office. The document provides the UN offer to address the impact of the multi-faceted crises: growing energy prices, food prices increase and economic implications of supply chain deterioration and trade disruption. It aims to support the people to cope and recover from these challenges with the focus on the most vulnerable population.
The Otgun family used the assistance provided to purchase a washing machine- an essential need when having three small children that could help the parents save time and devote it to other productive work.
“When we were told that we would get the assistance, we decided to get it because otherwise we would not be able to save this amount,” explains Marina. "Hence, we bought a washing machine for MDL 4900 that we received. When the needs are high, such an assistance is much appreciated.”
The UN Moldova Solidarity Programme will continue to be implemented in the cold period of the years 2023-2024 aiming to support the most vulnerable population to meet their basic needs.
This story was adapted from a version originally published by UN Moldova. To learn more about the work of the UN in Moldova, visit Moldova.un.org.