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.
- Further waves of COVID-19 are anticipated to affect millions, including the most vulnerable socio-economically deprived, women and tribal communities, and 286 million children facing disruptions in education and learning.
- UNICEF and partners will support the Government-led response to children's needs, addressing the direct and indirect impacts of COVID-19 and other disease outbreaks and natural disasters including earthquakes, droughts, cyclones and floods.
- UNICEF requires US$76.6 million to address the humanitarian needs of children and their families in India in 2022. This includes US$30 million for health systems response to COVID-19 and continuity of healthcare services, US$11.8 million to support delivery of safe water, sanitation and hygiene services, US$11.6 million to support 960,000 children with severe acute malnutrition, and $6.6 million to support continuity of learning. US$6 million for child protection will benefit 1.5 million women, girls and boys through interventions to prevent and respond to gender-based violence, and US$10 million is allocated for natural disasters.
Key planned targets for 2022
30 million children and women accessing health care
7.8 million people reached with critical WASH supplies
19 million children accessing educational services
45 million people reached through messaging on prevention and access to services
Funding requirements for 2022
Country needs and strategy
India continues to face the immediate health impacts of COVID-19 and the wider effects of the pandemic. Learning from the devastating second wave in 2021 (400,000 plus daily caseload at the peak), UNICEF India is anticipating future waves alongside the seasonal cyclones and floods that impact over 65 million people (including 24 million children) annually, significantly increasing with the changing climate.
Future waves of COVID-19 will impact the marginalized, including tribal, migrant, slum-dwellers and socio-economically deprived communities, whose vulnerabilities are exacerbated by inadequate access to health and social service entitlements and limited reach of media.
Even before the pandemic, India accounted for half of the world’s wasting burden, leaving millions of children predisposed to the adverse impacts of emergencies. The pandemic, through lower health-seeking behavior due to fear of COVID-19, reduced access to income and nutritious food and increased food costs, presents a perfect storm for increased severe acute malnutrition in India.
The combined effects of COVID-19 and the increasingly frequent and intense natural disasters due to the impacts of climate change are significantly impacting water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) service delivery, especially for populations on the move, millions of school-going children, and community spaces and households. Poor access to WASH services increases the risk of life-threatening disease outbreaks, especially among over 6 million under-five children living in flood-and cyclone-prone areas.
Since April 2020, 286 million children aged 3 to 18 years of age (49 per cent girls) have remained out of school. Schools have begun reopening in 26 out of 28 states, with only one state reopening early childhood development centers. Continuity of learning remains a challenge, especially for the most disadvantaged children during floods and cyclones, putting many children at increased risk of dropout, learning loss and exploitation.
COVID-19 has exacerbated violence and other protection risks, with families resorting to negative coping mechanisms including child marriage and child labor. The proportion of gender-based violence among the total reported crimes against children has increased from 32.4 per cent in 2019 to 36 per cent in 2020. More than 110,000 children have lost one or both primary caregivers to the pandemic. This is likely to be under-reported.
36.8 million jobs have been lost due to the pandemic, with migrant/daily wage laborers among the most affected. 7 million households are food insecure. Disruptions in social services adversely impact disadvantaged social groups, with almost 6.7 million pregnant women excluded from maternity benefit entitlements
The core strategy to respond to COVID-19 and frequent floods, cyclones and other natural disasters is to support a Government-led systemic response, complemented by direct response in partnership with local civil society organizations, platforms or youth in hard-to-reach areas. UNICEF will support strengthening systemic preparedness and response capabilities among front-line workers and partner platforms to ensure social sector services in emergencies, with a strong commitment to inclusive and gender-sensitive humanitarian action.
Sustained support to the health system for containment of COVID-19 outbreaks and action for minimizing disruptions in access to basic health services for children drives the health response. A blend of community and health system strengthening including provision of surge and essential COVID-19 equipment and supplies to front-line workers and health facilities will enhance community outreach services and strengthen pediatric care.
Provision of life-saving WASH supplies and services, promotion of youth leadership for WASH and WASH sectoral coordination will contribute to infection prevention and control and application of safety protocols in schools at-scale. Gender-sensitive, child-friendly, participatory design of WASH facilities will enable safety of women and girls.
Continuity of high-impact nutrition services through existing delivery platforms informed by a sentinel surveillance mechanism and a supportive community outreach will be key to respond quickly and effectively to severe acute malnutrition in children.
The key change-strategy is risk communication and community engagement (RCCE), focusing on marginalized communities for uptake of COVID-19 appropriate behaviours (CAB and CAB plus). Community engagement will improve access to and acceptance of information, entitlements, services and feedback channels, resulting in social and behaviour changes.
In collaboration with state and local governments, UNICEF will support continued safe school reopening and capacity development of teachers to ensure children’s access to quality learning. Inclusive and gender-sensitive, child-friendly spaces will provide relevant learning and life skills for girls and boys during emergencies.
Capacity of front-line workers and young people will be leveraged to provide mental health and psychosocial support for children, adolescents and caregivers to improve quality of preventive and rehabilitation services to address gender-based violence in emergencies. Family-based models will address the needs and vulnerabilities of children without parental care.
Provision of technical assistance to the Government on humanitarian cash transfers and civil registration will improve the social protection system's shock-responsiveness.
Strong learning and feedback loops embedded within Government systems will contribute to improving humanitarian action by line-departments (linking humanitarian and development). Provision of ‘information as aid’ will improve uptake of social protection entitlements during emergencies.
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 India; the strategies that we are using to respond to these situations; and the donor support that is essential in this response.