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Map of Djibouti
UNICEF photo: a mother holds two children, one receives a package of therapeutic food © UNICEF/Irby/5340 Girl affected by severe acute malnutrition receiving therapeutic food from community-health worker in Ali-Addeh refugee camp, May 2016.


In 2017, UNICEF and partners plan for:
At least 5,665

children under 5 suffering from SAM admitted for treatment


people gained access to safe water per agreed standards


refugee children from Ali Addeh and Holl Holl camps enrolled in school

2017 Requirements: US$3,409,831

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Total people in need: 244,9201
Total children (<18) in need: 133,0952

Total people to be reached in 2017: 75,646
Total children to be reached in 2017: 44,916

Malnutrition continues to threaten the lives of children in Djibouti and is either directly or indirectly linked to 40 per cent3 of all under-five deaths. Nearly one in every three children is stunted and 17.8 per cent4 of children under 5 are affected by global acute malnutrition. An estimated 5,963 children under 5 (5.7 per cent) suffer from severe acute malnutrition (SAM).5 The drought that began in 2007 has persisted for nine consecutive years, severely eroding household coping mechanisms. In rural areas, 76 per cent of people practice open defecation and 35 per cent lack access to safe water.6 More than 20 per cent7 of the population lack access to health care services. Children’s vulnerability to disease is increasing, with inadequate immunization coverage, the ongoing movement of migrants and the continuing influx of refugees (mainly from Ethiopia, Somalia and Yemen) intensifying the risk of epidemics. In October 2016, 2,800 Ethiopians sought asylum in Djibouti, adding to the community of 21,116 refugees – 70 per cent of whom are children and women8 – already hosted in the country. Refugees are suffering distress associated with the war and difficult living conditions. In urban areas, many migrant and street children cannot access basic social services and are exposed to violence and abuse.

Humanitarian strategy

2017 programme targets


  • At least 5,665 children under 5 suffering from SAM admitted for treatment
  • 31,392 children under 5 provided with vitamin A supplements


  • 5,000 children aged 6 to 59 months immunized against measles
  • 4,000 children under 5 affected by acute watery diarrhoea accessing treatment


  • 711,013 people gained access to safe water per agreed standards
  • 3,400 people gained access to adequate sanitation in drought-affected areas

Child protection

  • 500 migrant and street children benefiting from social assistance
  • 80 per cent of refugee children and caregivers in need accessing psychosocial activities


  • 6,800 refugee children from Ali Addeh and Holl Holl camps enrolled in school
  • 1,200 Yemeni refugee children from Markazi Camp and urban areas enrolled in school

Working with the Government and partners, UNICEF prioritizes life-saving and resilience-building activities designed to reach the most vulnerable children and mothers in Djibouti, while coordinating the nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and child protection working groups. UNICEF will focus on strengthening nutrition services and the prevention, early detection, referral and management of SAM. Vaccines and medicines will be provided to reduce the prevalence of epidemics such as measles or cholera and to treat pneumonia and diarrhoea. UNICEF will also work to expand access to safe water and sanitation for drought-affected people. A water quality monitoring mechanism will be set up to strengthen the existing epidemic warning system. In refugee and host communities, UNICEF will both facilitate the construction/rehabilitation of water supply systems and distribute hygiene kits. Access to education will be expanded through school kits, teacher trainings and the construction of learning spaces. In the Markazi Camp for Yemeni refugees, child protection support will be strengthened through reporting, referral and service delivery protocols. In urban areas, UNICEF will support migrant and street children to access social assistance and advocate for their birth registration.

Results from 2016

As of 31 October 2016, UNICEF had received US$1.2 million against the US$3.5 million appeal (34 per cent funded).9 A total of 4,751 children under 5 suffering from SAM were admitted for treatment and 97 per cent have recovered. UNICEF and partners responded to a measles outbreak by vaccinating 2,113 children. Despite the funding gap, UNICEF reached 1,895 people with access to safe water and restored water supply systems for 4,190 people who subsequently regained access to potable water. In areas with high rates of open defecation, the establishment of 16 community-managed toilet blocks gave 774 children and families access to sanitation. In urban centres, 750 migrant and vulnerable children (including 371 girls) enrolled in non-formal schools. In refugee camps, 3,750 children (46 per cent females) attended school. In Markazi Camp, 888 Yemeni refugee children and families benefited from the psychosocial support programme.

Funding requirements

In line with the country’s inter-agency 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan, UNICEF is requesting US$3,409,831 to meet the humanitarian needs of children in Djibouti in 2017. Without additional funding, UNICEF will be unable to support the national response to the country’s continuing nutrition crisis and provide critical WASH services to the most food insecure communities in drought-affected areas and in refugee camps. Refugee children’s access to education and child protection services will be severely compromised if funding is not available.

1 Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, ‘Djibouti Humanitarian Response Plan 2017’, OCHA.
2 Ibid.
3 2013–2017 Health System Development Plan.
4 SMART Nutrition Survey, 2013.
5 Ibid.
6 United Nations Children’s Fund and World Health Organization, ‘WASH Joint Monitoring Programme Report’, 2015.
7 National Health Information System, 2015.
8 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Monitoring Database.
9 Available funds included US$1,111,081 received against the current appeal year and US$75,430 carried forward from the previous year.