UNICEF in Emergencies
India is among the world’s most disaster-prone countries. Almost 80 per cent of India’s geographical area is considered at risk to one or more types of natural disasters: floods, coastal cyclones, droughts, earthquakes and landslides.
Tens of millions of people are affected annually in India, most of them from the poorest strata of the population, a high proportion of whom are children.
Every year between 2000 and 2009, 65 million people on average in India were affected by disasters; of these, 3.25 million were pregnant and lactating mothers.
Every year, 8.45 million children under five years of age are affected by disasters; of these, 1.25 million children are malnourished.
In only the last two decades, several major natural disasters have occurred in India:
•Latur Earthquake in 1993
Apart from the primary risk emerging from hazards like floods, drought etc. the background level of risk remains very high in large parts of India, this risk is contributed to by a combination of the following factors.
1. Forty-two per cent of the population lives on less than 1.25 dollars a day and the percentage of underweight children under the age of three has remained stagnant for the past seven years, standing at 45.9 per cent in 2005-06.
2. Undernutrition is directly or indirectly associated with more than one-third of all young child mortality. About 77 per cent of total under-five deaths occur before age one. The Infant Mortality Rate for India was estimated to be 53/1,000 live births in 2008 and the Maternal Mortality Ratio currently stands at 254/100,000 live births in 2004-2006
3. The percentage of working children stood at 11.8 in 2005-2006 . Two out of every three children in the country have been physically abused and 53.2 per cent of children have faced one or more forms of sexual abuse .
4. Sanitation coverage in rural India increased from 37 per cent in 2000 to 46 per cent in 2008 . In urban areas 82 per cent of households currently have access to sanitation . The Government of India plans to make the country free from open defecation by the end of the Eleventh Plan in 2012.
5. The number of people living with HIV/AIDS in India is estimated to be 2.37 million with an approximate national adult HIV prevalence rate of 0.29 per cent . An estimated 84 thousand children in India below the age of 15 are infected with HIV .
6. In education, the Gross Enrolment Rates (GER) in primary education has increased from 84.6 per cent in 1992-1993 to 111 per cent in 2005-2006 with much of the growth attributable to increased enrolment of girls. The estimated percentage of children not attending school in the age-group 6-10 years is 12 per cent.
UNICEF in Action
UNICEF is working jointly with Government of India on a five-year Country Programme to help India achieve its national development goals.
The overall goal of the 2008-2012 Country Programme is to advance the fulfilment of the rights of all women and children to survive, develop, participate and be protected by reducing social inequalities based on gender, caste, ethnicity or region.
UNICEF in India is the UN agency with the most extensive field office network in the country and the capacity to make a significant contribution in emergencies by complementing the Government’s efforts.
UNICEF’s response consists of urgently needed supplies to prevent disease epidemics and save lives.
UNICEF places an ever increasing emphasis on working with Government, NGO partners and other stakeholders to prepare at-risk communities to take proactive measures to reduce disaster risk and be prepared to respond to disasters.
The key benchmark for preparedness is the speedy resumption of essential social services post disaster, particularly those affecting children.
For more information and interviews, please contact:
Caroline den Dulk Chief of Communication, UNICEF India
Geetanjali Master, Communication Specialist, UNICEF India
Sonia Sarkar, Communication Officer- Media, UNICEF India
Report on the Conference on Community-based Disaster Risk Reduction
In the News
Core Commitments for Children in Emergencies