Map of South Asia
UNICEF photo: students attending classes outside © UNICEF Nepal/2015/CSKarki Fifth grade students attending classes outside their school in Khyber Pakthunkhwa, Pakistan which was damaged by the 7.5 Richter scale magnitude earthquake in October 2015.

South Asia

including Pakistan

Regional Office 2016 Requirements: US$5,700,000

In 2015, South Asia experienced a series of devastating earthquakes. On 25 April and 12 May, two major earthquakes measuring 7.8 and 7.5 on the Richter scale, respectively, struck northern Nepal. The earthquakes caused massive destruction in 14 of Nepal’s 75 districts and seriously affected 2.8 million people, including 1.1 million children. Nearly 9,000 people lost their lives and 22,400 were injured.1 On 26 October 2015, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake centred in the Hindu Kush mountains left 103,093 people in need of humanitarian assistance2 in Afghanistan and 195,798 people displaced3 in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Ongoing conflict in Afghanistan has further complicated the humanitarian response to the earthquake. In Nepal, since September 2015, vital imports of essential commodities have been severely restricted at the southern border due to unrest over the country's new constitution. As winter approaches, this is further exacerbating the humanitarian needs of children and women in earthquake-affected areas. In Pakistan, the protracted crisis in KP and FATA has affected 1,618,638 people, including 809,219 children.4 Recurring flooding caused by seasonal monsoons, the most frequent disaster in the region, affected Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in 2015, prompting UNICEF to provide support.

Regional humanitarian strategy

As a part of its four-year regional plan for the period 2014–2017, the Regional Office for South Asia (ROSA) will continue to provide technical assistance to eight country offices in South Asia. This assistance will support national capacity development for risk and conflict analysis, disaster risk reduction and resilience-building strategies, with particular attention on most vulnerable groups. ROSA will provide technical support in line with the Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action, especially in the areas of nutrition, health, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), education and child protection. The Regional Office will also provide leadership and technical capacity for any emergency in the region designated as Level 2 by the Executive Director. ROSA will support country office skills development in the areas of partnership management in emergencies, emergency preparedness capacity-building and staff security, with a specific emphasis on strengthening the sub-national capacity of partners. ROSA will also promote peer-exchanges and cross-country learning with staff and partners. Key lessons on emergency preparedness in South Asia will be documented and findings will be shared. The Regional Office will expand its recent partnership with the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Environment and Disaster Management Centre on child-centred disaster risk reduction, including child-centred risk assessment methodologies and comprehensive school safety. Given that South Asia is one of the most dangerous regions in the world for aid workers,5 ROSA will also maintain technical capacity to support the mitigation and management of risks to UNICEF staff and assets. This expertise will also be available to the East Asia and the Pacific region, as needed. The overall approach is to create synergies across regional office functions, notably emergency, planning, programme sectors, operations, communication and evaluation, so as to maximize a comprehensive package of technical guidance and support to UNICEF country offices and partners.

Results in 2015

By the end of 2015, ROSA had mobilized US$1.8 million for its humanitarian support activities. This included US$920,000 of new funding received under the appeal’s global support umbrella, US$700,000 in funds carried forward from 2014, and US$154,000 in core budget allocation. Only US$16,000 was received specifically against the US$2.7 million appeal. In response to the severe humanitarian impact of the earthquake that struck Nepal in April, ROSA provided coordination and technical support to the Nepal Country Office, including for staff surge, resource mobilization, humanitarian planning, reporting and evaluation. The Regional Office also strengthened its work on disaster risk reduction, notably through its strategic partnership with SAARC, which in 2015 involved three capacity building workshops for government officials in India and Nepal. This effort culminated in the SAARC-ROSA High Level Policy Dialogue on Children and Disaster Risk Reduction in Kathmandu in September and the subsequent adoption by SAARC Member States of the South Asia Regional Policy Framework for Child-Centred Disaster Risk Reduction. The Framework provides the eight Member States with guidance on a coherent approach to anticipating and addressing disaster risk concerns (rapid and slow onset). The Framework also led to the signing of a joint country-level work plan between the Pakistan National Disaster Management Authority and UNICEF to scale up child-centred disaster risk reduction. Technical support and training on emergency preparedness and response were provided to UNICEF country offices in Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Finally, ROSA supported the development of a Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey post-emergency module to generate data on the impact of conflict and natural hazards on households and to demonstrate the correlation between the effects of emergencies and the well-being of women and children. Cognitive testing was carried out in Nepal and field-testing was initiated in Pakistan.


Humanitarian strategy

Pakistan faces a combination of man-made crises and natural hazards. By the end of 2015, more than 1.2 million people remained displaced in the north-west areas of KP, and an additional 600,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) had returned to FATA.6 Pakistan is also prone to monsoon flooding, earthquakes, cyclones and drought and hosts the second largest protracted refugee caseload in the world, with 1.5 million Afghan refugees. In 2015, flooding affected nearly 1.6 million people, with maximum damages reported in Sindh and Punjab. In October 2015, the 7.5-magnitude earthquake that struck Badakhshan Province in Afghanistan also affected the north-western part of Pakistan. A total of 232 people were reported killed and 1,415 injured in KP, and 30 were killed and 211 injured in FATA. Since 2014, Sindh province has invariably experienced moderate to severe drought conditions, notably in Jamshoro, Tharparkar and Thatta districts. High malnutrition rates (above emergency threshold levels) are also prevalent in most agencies of FATA. Despite the continuing challenges of humanitarian space and funding, in an effort to address the critical humanitarian needs, the 2016 Pakistan Humanitarian Strategic Plan focuses on the following priority areas: a) FATA returnees and existing IDP caseloads; b) drought and malnutrition; and c) natural disasters (floods and earthquakes). As lead of the education, nutrition and WASH clusters and the child protection sub-cluster, UNICEF will continue to support overall coordination for emergency preparedness and response. The UNICEF programme targets for 2016 are as follows:

  • 433,174 children and women accessed life-saving interventions through measles campaigns and child health days
  • 40,910 children targeted for admission to therapeutic feeding programmes in FATA and internally displaced persons targeted for management of severe acute malnutrition cases
  • 400,200 people, including approximately 200,100 children, reached with a combination of critical WASH services, including 320,100 with sufficient safe drinking water for cooking and maintaining hygiene, 200,100 with access to sanitation facilities and 400,200 with hygiene education
  • 170,900 children and 79,600 women with safe access to protective spaces and related services
  • 204,250 displaced and returnee children (45 per cent girls) gained access to education through safe and secure learning environments that promote the protection and well-being of learners

Results in 2015

As of 31 October 2015, UNICEF Pakistan had received 27 per cent (US$14.4 million) of the US$53 million 2015 appeal, in addition to US$11.9 million carried forward from 2014. UNICEF and cluster partners only reached 45 per cent of the planned target of 162,211 acutely malnourished children due to funding constraints and restricted access. UNICEF and partners exceeded targets for micronutrient supplementation and the promotion of infant young child feeding practices due to intensive nutrition campaigns. UNICEF supported the provision of measles vaccinations to 192,177 children under 5 years, and exceeded the target due to increased demand among displaced persons returning to FATA. Planned results in access to safe water, improved sanitation and hygiene messages were nearly doubled in some cases, contributing to the prevention of water-related disease outbreaks. In education, UNICEF and partners supported 52,769 children (61 per cent of the target) to access temporary learning centres and schools in camps for internally displaced persons. Critical education supplies and teacher training supported children who were enrolled before displacement, as well as beginners and out-of-school children. Through Protective Learning and Community Emergency Services (PLaCES) centres, 55,978 children and their caregivers (73 per cent of the target) received protection, psychosocial support and recreational services, as well as life-skills education.

Funding requirements

UNICEF is requesting US$43,082,325 for regional- and country-level activities in humanitarian action and disaster risk reduction in 2016 in South Asia. Pakistan will require US$37,382,325 to respond to the humanitarian needs of girls, boys, women and men. These funds will cover a multi-sectoral response to the complex emergencies in KP and FATA; health, WASH and nutrition support to drought-affected communities in Sindh; contingency planning; and support to measles vaccination/child health days. Funding requirements at the regional level include US$5 million to support regional contingency funding for quick disbursement to country offices in need; and US$700,000 for regional technical support for emergency preparedness, disaster risk reduction and staff security, as per regional office accountabilities under the Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action.


1 United Nations Children’s Fund Nepal Country Office, Reaching the Unreached – Nepal Earthquake: Six Months Review, UNICEF, Lalitpur, 25 October 2015,, accessed 17 December 2015.
2 Quoted from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Afghanistan Situation Report of 12 November 2015.
3 Based on data provided by the National Disaster Management Authority of Pakistan, as of 16 November 2015.
4 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) KP/FATA Factsheet of 31 October 2015.
5 Humanitarian Outcomes, Aid Worker Security Report, 2015.
6 Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Pakistan Humanitarian Needs Overview 2016.