UNICEF in action: Strategy & priorities
Children stand next to their tent at a temporary camp for people displaced by the post-election violence in Kitale, Kenya.
In all its activities, and particularly in emergencies, UNICEF is guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). UNICEF works with local and international partners, including governments, UN agencies and civil society, to ensure that children’s rights are fulfilled, and that children receive all the support they need. These partnerships are crucial to ensuring comprehensive and effective humanitarian assistance as well as sustainable recovery.
UNICEF’s humanitarian assistance is based on its global Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action – the ‘CCCs’. The CCCs identify prioritized and time-bound actions in response to sudden situations of conflict or natural disasters.
- Health, nutrition and water, sanitation and hygiene in emergencies: Interventions such as emergency immunization, along with vitamin A supplementation and therapeutic feeding, are provided to children to prevent the deadly combination of malnutrition and measles, which can rapidly evolve into major killers of children. UNICEF also works to ensure supplies of safe drinking water, and to improve sanitary conditions for communities and displaced people.
- Education in emergencies: UNICEF aims to get children back to school as quickly as possible through the rehabilitation of schools and provision of school supplies. This is critical to rebuilding a protective environment for children who are uprooted by war or natural disasters. Back to school campaigns help re-establish normal routines within communities and provide a place for children to learn, play and simply be children.
- Preventing gender-based violence in emergencies: Sexual and gender-based violence are a disturbingly common trait of many humanitarian disasters. UNICEF aims to protect children and women from gender-based violence, focusing its efforts on prevention; protection; and recovery and reintegration.
- Child protection in emergencies: Many humanitarian crises cause the forced displacement of families, with children being separated from their caregivers and at grave risk of violence, abuse, abduction and exploitation. In humanitarian crises UNICEF therefore supports tracing and reunification programmes for separated children. UNICEF also works to prevent the recruitment of children into armed groups, and to ensure that those who have been recruited benefit from demobilization programmes.
- Emergency preparedness: The CCCs also emphasize UNICEF’s accountabilities with regards to emergency preparedness and the promotion of early recovery. In Eastern and Southern Africa, UNICEF is increasingly supporting countries in developing capacities for more comprehensive Disaster Risk Reduction. This includes addressing underlying risk factors and building a culture of safety and resilience at all levels of society including families, communities and government.
In 2005, the Inter-Agency Standing Committee agreed to implement a cluster approach to improve the predictability and quality of humanitarian coordination. UNICEF is the coordinating agency for the nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene, and education (jointly with Save the Children) clusters as well for the child protection and gender-based violence sub-cluster areas.