Humanitarian Action for Children
UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children appeal helps support the agency’s work as it provides conflict- and disaster-affected children with access to water, sanitation, nutrition, education, health and protection services. Return to main appeal page.
- Afghanistan is experiencing unprecedented and rising humanitarian needs. Some 28.3 million people, more than 65 per cent of the population, are projected to be in need of humanitarian assistance in 2023.
- Afghan women and girls are facing a systematic rights crisis. Their exclusion from secondary education and the workforce – and the imposition of rules governing their daily lives – has significantly increased their protection risks. The impacts will be felt for generations to come.
- The economic crisis is expected to continue, with 64 per cent of households unable to meet their basic needs. This is coupled with a historic third La Niña drought, harsh winters and other climate-related risks. Vulnerable populations will be pushed to the brink.
- UNICEF will continue to prioritize life-saving activities in underserved areas with multifaceted needs. Interventions will focus on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), health, nutrition, education and child protection. The UNICEF response will include gender-based violence services and the use of cash-based assistance to respond to sudden-onset disasters, avert catastrophe and meet existing humanitarian needs.
- US$1.65 billion is urgently needed to meet the humanitarian needs of 19 million people in Afghanistan.
Key planned results for 2023
19 million people accessing health care services through UNICEF-supported activities
875,000 children with severe wasting admitted for treatment
3.9 million children/caregivers accessing community-based mental health and psychosocial support
9 million people accessing a sufficient quantity and quality of water
Funding requirements for 2023
Country needs and strategy
More than more than 64 per cent of people in Afghanistan cannot meet their basic needs due to cascading crises that have shifted from conflict to economic shock, drought and a gender crisis. By December 2022, per capita income in the country is expected to be one-third lower than in 2020. The situation for women and girls has deteriorated: restrictions have created barriers to accessing services, curtailed basic freedoms and deprived many women of income-earning opportunities. The ban on girls’ secondary education affects 1.1 million girls, creating significant learning and protection risks. This will impact generations to come.
Historic levels of aid in 2022 largely averted catastrophe. Needs have increased, though, due to economic sanctions, climate-related disasters and the significant reduction in development assistance. Nearly 20 million people are projected to be in crisis and emergency levels of food insecurity. In 15 out of 34 provinces, severe wasting levels are above 3 per cent, with 875,000 children under age 5 requiring life-saving treatment for severe wasting. Without scaled-up multisectoral interventions, the possibility of famine cannot be excluded.
WASH needs will increase with a third consecutive La Niña likely on the horizon. Sixty-four percent of surveyed households are affected by drought, with 79 percent reporting lack of water and 51 percent reporting no access to improved latrines. outbreaks continue, among them an outbreak of diarrhoea that has sickened more than 2 million people.
While the health system has narrowly avoided collapse, 13.3 million people have no access to health care, largely due to the lack of infrastructure, coupled with high costs. Facilities remain understaffed and under resourced and many are consistently short of medicines and supplies. Approximately 8.7 million children need education support. Negative coping mechanisms are commonplace: 31 per cent of households report at least one child out of school, and 18 per cent report sending children to work. In fact, more than 1 million children are estimated to be working. Before August 2021, 9 out of 10 women were experiencing gender-based violence at some point in their lifetime; post-August 2021, support networks of shelters, legal mechanisms and medical treatment services have collapsed.
Afghanistan is ranked number 5 of the countries that are most climate at-risk worldwide, with a higher warming rate than the global average. Floods and other natural hazards affected more than 223,000 people in 2022 – double the five-year average.
The operating environment in Afghanistan remains highly complex. While physical access to people in need has largely improved, bureaucratic impediments, threats and intimidation of humanitarian workers and restrictions on female humanitarian workers have increased significantly, hindering the delivery of critical life-saving services. UNICEF continues to advocate for unimpeded and principled access to people in need.
UNICEF will continue to scale up life-saving humanitarian services in Afghanistan to meet unprecedented and growing needs, while ensuring critical basic services do not collapse. Emergency response interventions to acute needs will be prioritized while investing in nexus programming where feasible, particularly in drought-affected areas to reduce outbreaks and malnutrition. UNICEF’s cluster leadership and extensive field presence through five zonal offices and eight outposts allows for a decentralized, targeted and rapid response. UNICEF will deliver a holistic, gender-sensitive, inclusive response to the most vulnerable people in all programme areas.
UNICEF will continue to scale up curative and preventive nutrition services countrywide, including community-based screening and infant and young child feeding counselling. UNICEF will invest in multisectoral cash-based interventions in areas with the highest levels of severe wasting and at risk for Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) Phase 5, as well as cash assistance to families of children requiring inpatient treatment for severe wasting.
Primary and secondary health-care services will be prioritized, including maintaining critical human resources, medical supplies and equipment. To respond in hard-to-reach and underserved areas, UNICEF will operate more than 200 mobile health and nutrition teams that also integrate psychosocial support services. UNICEF will expand cash-based programming to offset prohibitive costs in accessing life-saving services.
UNICEF will scale up WASH programming. This includes prioritizing drought-responsive water supply to improve resilience in an effort to prevent displacement and reduce malnutrition burdens. UNICEF will undertake WASH interventions in both rural and urban settings through monitoring ground water levels, repair/rehabilitation of existing systems. The goal is to address the growing needs, prevent water systems collapse and reduce disease outbreaks.
UNICEF will continue to advocate for the reopening of secondary schools for girls. UNICEF will also reach vulnerable and shock-affected children through community-based education and both accelerated and temporary learning centres. The most at-risk public schools will be provided with critical support through school environment improvements, basic supplies and teacher training, particularly for female teachers.
To respond to growing protection needs, UNICEF will continue to provide mental health and psychosocial support services to vulnerable children, case management for unaccompanied and separated children, gender-based violence prevention, risk mitigation and response as well as targeted strengthening of the social workforce to improve the quality of care services. UNICEF will also expand work to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse to ensure functional safe and accessible reporting mechanisms are in place.
UNICEF will continue to scale up the use of humanitarian cash transfers to respond rapidly to sudden-onset disasters, mitigate the impact of harsh winters and support access to life-saving services. Targeted cash-based social assistance will be used to reduce vulnerabilities that lead to negative coping strategies in high-risk areas. Outbreak preparedness and response, including the prepositioning of critical supplies, will be prioritized to ensure an integrated response.
Humanitarian Action is at the core of UNICEF’s mandate to realize the rights of every child. This edition of Humanitarian Action for Children – UNICEF’s annual humanitarian fundraising appeal – describes the ongoing crises affecting children in Afghanistan; the strategies that we are using to respond to these situations; and the donor support that is essential in this response.