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.
- In India, an estimated 24.1 million children are impacted by floods, cyclones, heatwaves and other emergencies every year. Climate change, combined with environmental degradation, is increasing the frequency, severity and overall impacts of these kinds of hydro-meteorological hazards. To cope, the most vulnerable children require life-saving, multisectoral assistance and sustained access to services in remote, hard-to-reach locations.
- In 2023, UNICEF aims to boost emergency preparedness and provide immediate life-saving and life-sustaining assistance to the most vulnerable populations facing multiple humanitarian crises by supporting the continuity of services, scaling up government-led responses and investing in resilience-building interventions.
- UNICEF requires US$15.7 million to address the vulnerabilities and needs of 6.7 million children impacted by emergencies and build systemic capacities to provide multisectoral humanitarian responses at scale. Social-sector delivery systems are still recovering from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis, and there is an urgent need to strengthen systemic capabilities to cope with recurring disasters that are further aggravated by climate change. Sector strategies aim to strengthen sector and community preparedness, inclusive of people with disabilities, and reduce the risk of gender-based violence.
Key planned targets for 2023
8.9 million children and women accessing primary health care
1.6 million pregnant women receiving preventative iron supplementation
704,750 women and children accessing gender-based violence mitigation, prevention, response
544,000 people accessing a sufficient quantity and quality of water
Funding requirements for 2023
Country needs and strategy
The number, scale, duration and complexity of humanitarian crises in India have increased dramatically, challenging the capacity of social sectors to prepare for and respond to them. Around 80 percent of India's population lives in districts exposed to such extreme hydro-meteorological hazards as floods, drought, heatwaves and cyclones. These increase vulnerable peoples' exposure to hazards and disrupt essential services. They undermine development gains for children.
Among the 65 million people impacted annually by emergencies in India are 5.8 million children under age 5, many of whom live in remote locations. These children need multisectoral support.
There is a continued need for knowledge and system literacy among at-risk populations and for front-line workers to practice climate change adaptation and environmental sustainability to achieve local risk-resilience targets.
Climate shocks, the global economic crisis and the socioeconomic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have negatively impacted household income and food security in India. While the country mounted massive expansions of social protection safety nets in 2020-2021, only 40 per cent of all poor households reported receiving both food and cash assistance. There is a direct impact on child well-being. For example, malnutrition remains associated with 68 percent of child mortality, and 22 million children under age 5 suffer from wasting, including 8.8 million children with severe wasting. Wasted children are more prone to diseases and have a significantly higher risk of death.
Climate change also impacts the delivery of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), nutrition and other services for children under age 5 as well as millions of school-age children. Floods and cyclones can damage WASH infrastructure and lead to water source contamination, increasing the risk of life-threatening disease outbreaks, especially for children under age 5. Children deprived of nutrition, WASH and other services eventually bring a significant disease load into the primary health-care system, which may already be overwhelmed due to the extreme weather event.
Displacement and the loss of a protective environment due to high-intensity disasters challenge learning continuity, especially for the most disadvantaged children in remote areas. This puts many children at increased risk of dropout, learning loss and exploitation.
While India has made progress in several child-related indicators (e.g., the reduction in under-five mortality from 34 to 28 per 1,000 live births), many children under age 5 who live in remote locations are especially vulnerable to emergencies, particularly losing out on school days and on health care and other services, and may face an increased risk of trafficking and gender-based violence.
UNICEF will support government-led efforts to reach the most vulnerable children and women with an integrated package of life-saving services that include health, nutrition, WASH, education, child protection, social and behaviour change communication and social protection services, in partnership with local civil society organizations, partner platforms and youth-volunteers. UNICEF will prioritize building government preparedness and response systems to address capability gaps that are exacerbated by climate variability and climate extremes. Partnerships will be the core operational strategy to address the needs of the most vulnerable women and children in hard-to-reach areas. Considering children's high levels of exposure to natural hazards in India, the next UNICEF country programme (2023-2027) infuses risk-informed programming with a strong commitment to inclusive and gender-sensitive humanitarian results.
Health strategies will strengthen government systems that prioritize quality and coverage and will emphasize access to key high-impact services and continuity of interventions, antenatal care, institutional deliveries and routine immunization for the most vulnerable women and children from tribal, urban-rural poor and internally displaced populations in 17 states. Supporting the government-led response, life-saving WASH services will utilize supplies, youth leadership and hygiene behaviour campaigns to address the needs of the most vulnerable children. Child-friendly facilities that are gender- and disability-sensitive will enable better use of WASH services.
UNICEF will support strengthening of existing government delivery platforms for high-impact essential nutrition interventions that rapidly respond to malnutrition in children and pregnant women. The nutrition approach is to promote access to diets, services and practices that improve the nutritional status and respond to wasting and anaemia among children, adolescents and women.
Community engagement will improve access to and acceptance of information, entitlements, services, learning, and life skills resulting in social and behavioural changes. To enable local risk-resilience, 195 community radio stations in 26 states will take life-saving messages to 30 million people in at-risk communities and front-line workers in remote locations.
UNICEF will support inclusive, safe and gender-sensitive quality learning in schools, temporary learning spaces and child-friendly spaces through capacity development of teachers and the use of essential supplies in remote areas affected by floods and cyclones. A continuum of care through government service delivery platforms supported by UNICEF will promote the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents during emergencies and address the needs and vulnerabilities of unaccompanied children or those without parental care through family-based alternative-care and reunification services.
UNICEF will support the government's routine social protection and humanitarian cash systems to expand coverage to the most vulnerable during the period of stress and proactively address their needs during periods of crises through technical advisory, on-ground case management, information-as-aid (cash+) and feedback mechanisms.
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.