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.
- Eritrea remains highly vulnerable to economic, climatic and external shocks, including drought, limited access to safe water, insecurity, the conflict in Tigray, Ethiopia and the socioeconomic impact of sanctions. What's more, the country's most fragile ecosystems are threatened by climate change and desertification as well as desert locust infestations.
- These multiple drivers of vulnerability have affected more than 1.1 million people who are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, including 745,600 children.
- UNICEF, in partnership with the Government, will continue to mainstream humanitarian responses within its regular development programmes and engage in preparedness, risk management and contingency planning at a national level. The goal is to build capacity and resilience in absorbing shocks.
- In 2023, UNICEF is seeking US$14.7 million to provide urgent life-saving humanitarian services, treatment for severe wasting, a sufficient quantity of drinking water, access to quality basic education and cash transfers to vulnerable families, among other interventions.
Key planned results for 2023
600,000 children and women accessing primary health care
40,000 children with severe wasting admitted for treatment
200,000 children receiving individual learning materials
100,000 people accessing a sufficient quantity and quality of water
Funding requirements for 2023
Country needs and strategy
People in Eritrea continued in 2022 to feel the impact of weak socioeconomic conditions, low food production, a decline in family remittances due to economic sanctions and depletion of groundwater levels affecting access to potable water. Over the past two years, climatic conditions have tested the coping capacities of the country and its population, where farming, animal herding and fishing are the mainstay of livelihoods for approximately 65-70 per cent of the population.
Routine nutrition screening surveillance conducted in the first quarter of 2022 revealed an increase in cases of wasting among children in most of the country’s regions compared with the first quarter of 2021: 17,236 children experiencing wasting (of whom 4,016 were severely wasted) in the first quarter of 2022, compared with 14,488 experiencing wasting (of whom 3,689 were severely wasted) in the same period in 2021. This meant an increase in the need for ready-to-use therapeutic food for children under age 5.
There have also been sporadic cases of measles in the country. Maintaining community immunity to vaccine-preventable infectious diseases by reaching all zero-dose 6 and under-immunized children as well as missed communities with life-saving vaccines is critical. Currently, 24 out of 62 districts in Eritrea achieve vaccination coverage of less than 80 per cent, largely due to poor geographic accessibility. This impacts 31,000 children under 1 year of age who are either not immunized or are under-immunized.
While access to improved drinking water has recently increased, a significant portion of the rural population in Eritrea does not have access to improved and safe water sources, while the urban population still has limited access to improved sanitation.
Eritrea is home to about 98,000 orphaned children and to more than 30,000 children with disabilities. Forty-four per cent of households are female-headed. Many of these orphaned children and children with disabilities face severe economic, health, nutritional and psychological hardships.
Regarding access to quality education, there are around 300,000 children (152,000 girls) and adolescents aged 6-17 years who were reported by the Government as being out of school, with notable regional and gender disparities.
As the conflict in the Tigray Region of neighbouring Ethiopia enters its third year, the Government continues to monitor the well-being of its people living in areas bordering the conflict region. If a humanitarian response is required, upon the Government's request UNICEF will work with other members of the United Nations Country Team to coordinate a joint response.
In 2023, UNICEF and the Government will continue to strengthen links between humanitarian and development programming in Eritrea.
UNICEF will procure ready-to-use therapeutic food and other essential supplies. UNICEF, in partnership with the Ministry of Health, aims to scale up neonatal intensive care services and support the treatment of severe and moderate wasting in children under age 5.
Populations in hard-to-reach areas will be reached through mobile outreach clinics and barefoot doctors, community members who have undergone a 6-month residential training to deliver a package of preventive, promotive and curative health and nutrition services. UNICEF, working with the Ministry of Health, will support the training of additional barefoot doctors to be deployed to the most remote communities of Eritrea.
UNICEF, together with the Government, will work to accelerate access to water and sanitation in communities, through the community-led total sanitation approach. This will ensure that people have access to an adequate and safe water supply. UNICEF will support communities with a recharging mechanism structure for water wells to protect groundwater from overextraction and pollution.
UNICEF will work with the Ministry of Education to provide access to quality basic education through formal and non-formal programmes. This encompasses the provision of learning spaces, skilled teachers, curriculum and teaching-learning materials to ensure continuity of quality education. Included will be the delivery of remedial programmes to redress the year-long loss in classroom learning.
Through community-based child protection platforms, the emphasis will be placed on addressing violence against children and gender-based violence through sensitizing communities. Adolescent girls will be a particular focus. UNICEF and the Government will also support the provision of mental health and psychosocial services for children with disabilities using community-based rehabilitation volunteers and social workers for case management and home visits. Social protection programmes will be enhanced to include the provision of one-off cash grants to support income-generating activities for vulnerable families. The focus will be on female-headed households and continuity, and on mobility support for children with disabilities to attend in-person classes.
Critical social and behavioural change efforts will strengthen and intensify community engagement activities as well as national media engagement to provide critical information to hard-to-reach populations. UNICEF will support the Government in promoting resilience and reducing vulnerability among communities. Risk communication and community engagement programmes will be used to strengthen community capacities, and avenues extended for communities to share their feedback and concerns, part of UNICEF's efforts to enhance accountability to affected populations.
UNICEF and government teams have prioritized quarterly joint monitoring visits to determine whether results are being achieved as planned and whether funds transferred are usedfor the intended purpose.
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 Eritrea; the strategies that we are using to respond to these situations; and the donor support that is essential in this response.