Building Premise’s Ukraine Response With Partner Input

by | Mar 3, 2022


Premise is back up in Ukraine after a four-day pause due to security concerns after the Russian invasion began. We believe we have an unmatched ability to gather data in a way that is highly structured and capable of complying with humanitarian standards and best practices. That said, we are not in contact with nearly as many humanitarian actors as we would like. Most of our customers in Ukraine before the invasion were long-term development projects, and the humanitarian response is only just beginning. As a result, we are concerned about the risk of gathering data that humanitarian actors don’t need or can’t effectively use in their response. As such, we believe the most scalable way to address this issue is to build our humanitarian data collection “in the open.”

This is the first in a series of blog posts that will cover what data we’re gathering in Ukraine, what are the goals of the data collection, insights from that data, and our current thinking on next steps. We are sending these blog posts and other information products to key humanitarian stakeholders that know us, but we think that is only the tip of the iceberg. We need your help to make the data we’re gathering as useful as possible. Therefore, we’re asking:

– Are you working on Ukraine humanitarian response and in need of better data? 

– Is there anyone you know involved in the response that should be getting these updates? 

– Is your organization running a rapid needs assessment already that we could use to standardize ours? 

– Does your organization have data that our other partners could use? 

If so, we want to hear from you

Please note: We have a strict vetting process in place. Only Premise employees can create data collection tasks and only vetted humanitarian organizations will be eligible to receive our data. Furthermore, the personally identifiable information of Premise Contributors will never be made available to anyone, period. 


All data gathered through Premise is done by our existing community of data Contributors in Ukraine using our smartphone app. The only tasks present in our app are those commissioned by Premise directly or by our vetted base of customers and partners. Right now in Ukraine, we are only collecting survey data for which our Contributors serve as the respondents. This is akin to an internet survey, but done through a smartphone. Contributors are able to answer from wherever they like and are not asked to take any photos or travel to any specific locations. We may restart observational data collection soon, but right now we are only conducting surveys. 

Premise has had a Ukrainian network for four years and has generated internal user scores for all of our Contributors. All the surveys we’ve launched have geographic sub-samples for Eastern, Central, and Western oblasts. We’re aiming to collect 500 responses per region. Premise normally uses a stratified sampling methodology based on WorldPop census data, but the impact of the invasion on our network is not clear at the moment, and we aren’t certain we could get sufficient responses in a short time frame. If it becomes apparent that we can, we’ll shift from a convenience sample to quota or stratified sampling. All the tasks described below are set to a weekly recurrence so that we can start to build longitudinal datasets. Data analysis will be possible down to the raion (district) level, but we won’t be able to make any statistical inferences at that level of granularity. 

Data Gathering in Ukraine

The first task we designed and launched since we restarted data gathering on March 2nd is a rapid evaluation based on the HESPER scale. The goal of this survey is to identify the most serious problems experienced by Ukrainian Contributors as they perceive them in a manner that is aligned with the main sectors of humanitarian action (i.e. water, health, etc.). Our goal is to help humanitarian actors identify the most pressing needs faced by Ukrainians. We anticipate that assistance in many of these sectors might not be possible right now, so we appreciate any feedback on how to modify this general needs assessment in a way that makes sense based on the humanitarian community’s current capabilities to deliver

We assume that certain sectors will be of higher priority, so we proceeded with publishing more detailed surveys on food security, WASH, and health. The instruments we’re using were developed for use in Yemen in partnership with a humanitarian customer of ours, and are loosely based on elements of this coping strategy index. We would like to feel greater confidence that these instruments are the most appropriate for the situation in Ukraine. If you have a better understanding of the needs of actors in the sectors of food security, WASH, and health, please get in touch

Lastly, we’ve launched two surveys on cross-cutting issues. The first is a survey on safety and humanitarian access. Its goal is to get citizens’ perception of safety and who is in control of territory for humanitarian access purposes. We think it’s useful to merge this data with official reporting to get a more complete picture. The second survey is focused on displacement and aims to understand the experience of Premise Contributors who have been internally displaced and the perspective of their host communities. 

All of these surveys were launched on March 2nd. We’ll be reporting back on the results ASAP. 

Data Gathering in Neighboring Countries

Premise is also beginning to gather data that supports humanitarian assistance for Ukrainian migrants in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Moldova. Our working theory is that there is strong data on migrants staying in camps just across the border, but that there are major data gaps around migrants staying in host communities. Since this is our assumption, we would appreciate any revisions. 

Our respondents in these countries aren’t Ukrainian citizens, they’re residents of the communities in which Ukrainians are being hosted. We’re using a modified HESPER scale to measure the most serious problems, but we don’t have a high level of confidence as to how well this will work. If you have ideas about how to survey host communities regarding the needs of migrants staying in their community, please let us know. We’re also asking about the strain migrants might be placing on host communities, targeting Contributors in all of Moldova and every province of Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania that borders Ukraine. This survey is live in Poland now and will be live in Moldova and Romania later today. 

What’s Next 

In our next update we hope to share results of these surveys, any changes to our approach, and our next focus for data collection. In the meantime, we’d like to know:

– Does your organization have staff or networks in Ukraine? We strongly urge them to download our app and start contributing data. Our partners need the biggest network possible to help understand needs on the ground. 

– Are there organizations you know who should be weighing in on what data is gathered or should be getting the full results? Please email them and copy [email protected]. We want to hear from them. 


Chris Watson, Director of International Development, and the Premise International Development Team