Democratic Republic of the Congo Appeal
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.
Democratic Republic of the Congo snapshot
- The scale and complexity of humanitarian needs and protection concerns in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are staggering. Chronic poverty and weak essential service systems, recurrent armed conflict, acute malnutrition and major epidemic outbreaks, including the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, are all heightening vulnerability.
- UNICEF will be among the first responders providing a timely and integrated life-saving response to address the acute needs of people affected by forced displacements, natural disasters and public health emergencies. Using a localized approach, UNICEF will revitalize and strengthen the capacities of community-based organizations to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the humanitarian response, address immediate needs and reinforce the resilience of communities and systems.
- UNICEF requires US$384.4 million to address the acute needs of children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and uphold and promote their rights. Without timely and adequate funding to alleviate their suffering, the situation will continue to worsen.
Key planned results for 2021
644,496 children admitted for treatment for severe acute malnutrition
1 million children vaccinated against measles
2.2 million people accessing a sufficient quantity of safe water
400,000 children / caregivers accessing mental health and psychosocial support
Funding requirements for 2021
Country needs and strategy
Due to multifaceted conflicts, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is home to the second largest displaced population in the world. There are 5.2 million people internally displaced in the country, including 3 million children. Fifty per cent of displaced people were displaced in the last 12 months, which has created a protection crisis of unprecedented size. Displaced children are exposed to extreme violence, at heightened risk of abuse and live in precarious conditions with limited access to basic services such as drinking water, primary health care and education.
Four million children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are in urgent need of protection. In the first half of 2020, as violence intensified in Ituri and North and South Kivu provinces, grave violations against children increased by 16 per cent. The prevalence of gender-based violence remains high, particularly in conflict-affected provinces. Nearly 30 per cent of women and girls aged 15 to 49 are survivors of gender-based violence. Women and children are also at risk of sexual exploitation and abuse, with few avenues for reporting abuse and seeking assistance.
Access to social services and basic infrastructure remains limited across the country. Some 15 million Congolese in rural areas lack access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities. In addition, 3.3 million children under 5 years are malnourished and 1 million children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM). The socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to further increase the number of children with SAM in 2021. Some 3 million vulnerable children aged 3 to 17 years lack access to quality education.
The high prevalence of diseases with epidemic potential is deepening the complexity of the humanitarian situation. Less than half of all households have access to primary health care and only half of the children in these households have received the pentavalent vaccine. A new Ebola outbreak was declared on 1 June 2020 in the Equateur province, with 119 confirmed cases as of 25 October and a mortality rate of 42.3 percent. Over 14,400 suspected cholera cases have also been recorded.
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed additional pressure on already fragile social and health systems. More than 11,000 cases have been reported since March 2020. COVID-19-related restrictions have limited livelihood opportunities and undermined access to markets, adding to humanitarian needs across the country. The pandemic has disrupted children's development, learning and well-being; and violence against women and girls is on the rise.
In 2021, UNICEF will be among the first responders providing a timely and integrated life-saving response to address the acute needs of people affected by population movement, natural disasters and health emergencies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Building on lessons learned during the Ebola outbreak response in the east, UNICEF will take a community-based approach to its humanitarian action, including by revitalizing and strengthening the capacities and operations of community-based organizations to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the humanitarian response, address immediate needs and reinforce the resilience of communities and systems. UNICEF will also focus on survivor follow up, health system strengthening and the supervision of community action cells to improve community-based surveillance. Cross-cutting issues such as disability, gender and age will be integrated throughout the response. UNICEF will also invest in a systemic approach to preventing sexual exploitation and abuse, including regular training, community engagement, risk assessment, increased vetting and human resources measures.
Following sudden shocks, UNICEF and partners will work through UNICEF Rapid Response to provide vulnerable communities in hard-to-reach areas with life-saving assistance. The mechanism will serve as an entry point for a comprehensive humanitarian response. To this end, UNICEF will strengthen the linkages between health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), education and child protection programmes to enable holistic humanitarian assistance and pave the way for more sustainable humanitarian interventions.
To save the lives of children under 5 years suffering from severe wasting, UNICEF's nutrition response will support early detection at the community and family levels, referrals and SAM treatment through community and health facilities. Preventive interventions – such as infant and young child feeding counselling, growth monitoring, WASH-in-nutrition and vaccination – will be provided jointly with other sectors.
Children associated with armed groups and unaccompanied and separated children will receive appropriate and individualized care, focusing on innovative reintegration programmes. Gender-based violence programming will be integrated across all programmes; life-saving gender-based violence services will be expanded; and women and girls will be supported with safety- and resilience-building interventions. UNICEF will also strengthen the linkages between child protection, education, WASH and health programmes to increase children's access to quality and inclusive assistance in protective and child-friendly learning and care environments.
UNICEF is committed to eliminating cholera in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by 2024. A new rapid response approach to responding to cholera will be scaled up using the Case Area Targeted Interventions methodology. To mitigate the immediate impacts of COVID-19 and improve the socio-economic situation of vulnerable households, UNICEF will support the development of a shock-response social protection system where feasible and appropriate.
UNICEF will continue to lead the WASH, nutrition and education clusters and the non-food items and child protection working groups at the national and decentralized levels and to co-lead the cash working group in Goma.
Find out more about UNICEF's work
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 the Democratic Republic of the Congo; the strategies that we are using to respond to these situations; and the donor support that is essential in this response.