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.
- As of September 2020, there have been over 4.3 million cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and nearly 132,000 deaths in Brazil. This is the second highest number of cases globally and the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in the region. The pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing disparities and vulnerabilities in Brazil.
- While the country's richest and most populous Southeastern region has the highest number of cases, COVID-19 has quickly spread into vulnerable territories, with 1.8 million cases and 51,000 deaths in the North and Northeast regions. Working with State and municipal authorities, UNICEF will respond to the COVID-19 crisis in 150 municipalities and 55 urban neighborhoods that are already covered by UNICEF programmes. The response will build on regular programming and partnerships.
- UNICEF is requesting US$22.9 million to address the COVID-19-related needs of children in Brazil and strengthen existing systems.
Key planned targets for 2021
1.3 million children accessing water, sanitation and hygiene services in learning and safe spaces
1.1 million children / caregivers accessing mental health and psychosocial support
3.5 million children accessing educational services
130,000 households reached with cash transfers where UNICEF provided technical assistance
Funding requirements for 2021
Country needs and strategy
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a devastating impact on Brazil, in part due to the country's high levels of income inequality. The COVID-19 incidence rate is higher in the North and Northeast regions, where structural, gender and racial inequalities, lack of economic opportunities and poor service delivery are compounding its impacts on children and families. Indigenous communities, quilombolas, people of African descent and marginalized urban communities have been hardest hit and require additional support.
The interruption of educational services has severely impacted children, generating potentially life-long consequences. While the safe reopening of schools is paramount, 39 per cent of schools lack basic hygiene services and less than 60 per cent of schools in 1,600 municipalities have access to public water networks.
Some 250,000 health care workers have been infected and 220 have died, further impacting the capacity of the health system to provide essential maternal, newborn and child health services, including nutrition services.
Immunization has also been affected. While immunization coverage has been decreasing in Brazil since 2015, for the first time, the country will not reach vaccination coverage targets for a single vaccine. Measles cases have been identified in 20 states, illustrating the risk that vaccine-preventable diseases will recur.
Despite Brazil's generous national emergency social benefits, 30 per cent of people in the North and Northeast regions are unable to afford food, and 9 per cent of families have had to skip a meal at least once due to lack of financial resources. The economic impacts on the poorest families may lead to school dropouts and child labour. In the largest cities, adolescents are also impacted by armed violence and illegality.
COVID-19 lockdowns have increased violence against children, including gender-based violence, with related impacts on mental health and well-being. Intimate partner violence is also on the rise.
UNICEF will support the implementation of federal and state humanitarian measures at the municipal and community levels in vulnerable areas of Brazil. In line with the Grand Bargain commitments, the Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action and key guidance on COVID-19, this work will take a two-pronged approach: (1) containing transmission and ensuring the continuity of essential services; and (2) mitigating the pandemic's impact on the most vulnerable children and adolescents. UNICEF will disseminate key information promoting positive behavioural changes and engage affected communities in reducing infections and mitigating the secondary impacts of COVID-19.
The first component focuses on supporting safe conditions for children returning to schools and families attending primary health care facilities and social assistance centres, including enhancing water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and infection prevention and control services. Priority areas include 150 municipalities with significant populations of indigenous people, quilombolas and other vulnerable groups and 55 urban neighborhoods affected by armed violence and criminal activities.
The interventions of this component are SAFE in that they: (S) support education for the safe reopening of schools; (A) assist the continuity of maternal, newborn and child health services by strengthening WASH/infection prevention and control protocols; (F) facilitate hand hygiene in social assistance services for children; and (E) ensure that vulnerable households have access to information, receive adequate assistance to protect themselves and have access to quality feedback mechanisms.
The second component focuses on strengthening the linkages between humanitarian action and development programming by leveraging existing UNICEF development programmes in over 1,900 vulnerable municipalities in 18 states in the North and Northeast to strengthen COVID-19 prevention and mitigation. This will include: supporting WASH sector coordination for equitable access to WASH and infection prevention and control interventions; investing in risk communication, community engagement and behavioural change interventions; mitigating the impacts of COVID-19 on children’s education by preventing and addressing school dropout at the start of the 2021/22 academic year, while enhancing skills development opportunities to prevent child labour; improving the quality and reach of mental health and psychosocial assistance services for children and adolescents; supporting specialized, gender-responsive child protection interventions for girls and boys affected by violence, including gender-based violence; addressing health and nutrition impacts on maternal, child and adolescent health, including vaccination; supporting infant and young child feeding counseling, micronutrient supplementation and healthy diets; and supporting government authorities to build shock-responsive social protection systems.
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 Brazil; the strategies that we are using to respond to these situations; and the donor support that is essential in this response.