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Map of Eritrea
UNICEF photo: Two girls © UNICEF Eritrea/2018/Rabindra Giri Two young children from the Tsaeda-Christian community in Eritrea.


In 2019, UNICEF and partners plan for:

children under 5 years provided with vitamin A supplementation


children immunized against measles


people accessing safe water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene

2019 requirements: US$14,243,000

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Total people in need: Not available
Total children (<18) in need: Not available

Total people to be reached: 528,750
Total children to be reached: 494,800

Eritrea is characterized by harsh climatic conditions, including cyclical drought, which affects groundwater resources, and flooding during rainy seasons. These events exacerbate the vulnerability of communities, making it difficult for families to fully recover from the effects of one emergency before another strikes. In recent years, the country’s climatic conditions have tested the coping capacities of the population, which is largely dependent (80 per cent) on subsistence agriculture.1 In 2010, half of all children under 5 years were stunted,2 and children are affected by sporadic outbreaks of diarrhoea and measles. The risk of landmines and explosive remnants of war continues to affect border communities, particularly children. Some 300,000 children are out of school, with the majority of out-of-school children from nomadic communities that are vulnerable to natural disasters.3 In July 2018, following the signing of the Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship by Ethiopia and Eritrea, tensions softened significantly between the neighbouring countries, and in November 2018, the United Nations Security Council lifted sanctions against Eritrea.

Humanitarian strategy

2019 programme targets


  • 15,000 children under 5 years treated for SAM
  • 300,000 children under 5 years provided with vitamin A supplementation
  • 40,000 children under 5 years treated for MAM


  • 110,000 children immunized against measles
  • 65,000 children affected by diarrhoea having access to life-saving curative interventions


  • 60,000 people accessing safe water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene
  • 60,000 people accessing safe and appropriate sanitation facilities

Child protection

  • 100,000 children receiving critical protection services/mine risk education
  • 1,000 vulnerable households receiving cash transfers


  • 4,800 school-aged children accessing quality education, including through temporary structures5

In 2019, UNICEF and partners will mainstream humanitarian preparedness planning and response within regular programmes to reach children in need in Eritrea. Integrated and multi-sectoral approaches will be used to deliver life-saving interventions. For example, the provision of safe water and sanitation to affected populations will be used as an entry point to reducing stunting among children under 5 years, and the nutrition response will focus on the integrated management of acute malnutrition. UNICEF will reach communities in hard-to-reach areas with integrated services using mobile outreach clinics. Local communities will be supported to strengthen their capacities to manage common childhood illnesses, including diarrhoea, and promote positive health-seeking behaviours, such as handwashing and other hygiene practices. UNICEF will also prioritize strengthening health systems and improving immunization coverage. Out-of-school children, particularly in nomadic and semi-nomadic communities, will be reached through a back-to-learning campaign. UNICEF will provide basic services, such as education, health care, psychosocial support and cash grants, to strengthen community resilience, protect children on the move and build the life skills of adolescents in danger of irregular migration. Mine risk education and other critical life-saving interventions will target schoolchildren in communities at risk of landmines and unexploded remnants of war.

Results from 2018

As of 31 October 2018, UNICEF had US$10.9 million available against the US$14 million appeal (78 per cent funded).4 UNICEF and the Ministry of Health supported the training of 570 volunteers to promote infant and young child feeding practices and active case finding for children with acute malnutrition. As a result, over 32,000 children with moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) and nearly 13,000 children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) received treatment. Over 265,000 children received vitamin A supplementation, and this figure is likely to reach 500,000 by the end of the ongoing measles-rubella vaccination campaign. In addition, some 38,000 children and women in hard-to-reach areas received supplementary feeding; more than 32,000 children affected by diarrhoea received life-saving treatment; and over 11,000 pregnant and lactating women received antenatal and postnatal services. UNICEF also supported the Ministry of Health to identify gaps in the health response and mainstream risk communication into national health promotion policy. In partnership with the Water Resources Department, UNICEF supported over 21,000 people with access to safe water, and some 67,000 people received information on appropriate hygiene practices. Over 97,800 children from at-risk communities received mine risk education, and over 6,700 children from nomadic communities gained access to education.

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Funding requirements

UNICEF Eritrea is appealing for US$14.2 million to meet the needs of children in Eritrea in 2019. This funding will enable UNICEF to support life-saving interventions and resilience building, including reducing stunting among children under 5 years by providing safe water and sanitation services to affected populations; preventing and treating SAM; supporting integrated services in hard-to-reach communities through mobile clinics; reaching at-risk children with mine risk education; providing cash grants for children with disabilities; and helping out-of-school children, particularly from nomadic and semi-nomadic communities, access education.

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1 Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Eritrea, 2016.
2 Eritrean Population Health Survey, 2010. More recent data is not available.
3 Government of Eritrea Ministry of Education, Education Management and Information System, 2017.
4 Available funds include US$8.7 million received against the current appeal and US$2.2 million carried forward from the previous year.
5 The target has been reduced compared with 2018 in an attempt to make it more in line with current issues related to access and cash flows, as well as with the revised education strategy, which will allow for better tracking of the programme’s qualitative results.
6 The child protection/social protection budget breakdown is as follows: children receiving critical protection services/mine risk education: US$150,000; vulnerable households receiving cash transfers: US$1.5 million.