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.
- The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has hit India particularly hard. Between April and June 2020, gross domestic product shrank by 23.9 per cent. In addition, 24 million children are impacted by floods, drought, cyclones and other hazards that are exacerbating underlying vulnerabilities.
- Leveraging its field presence in India, UNICEF's humanitarian strategy focuses on building resilient systems to support preparedness and response, including for vulnerable people in slums and migrant families. Key activities include supporting risk communication and community engagement; facilitating the continuity of essential health and nutrition services; strengthening infection prevention and control in health facilities; ensuring access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services; strengthening disaster risk management systems and civil society capacities; and supporting the continuity of education, child protection, gender-based violence and social protection services.
- UNICEF is requesting US$53.9 million to assist 78 million people, including 44 million children, in India.
Key planned targets for 2021
33 million children and women accessing health care
3.5 million people reached with critical water, sanitation and hygiene supplies and services
450,000 children / caregivers accessing mental health and psychosocial support
45 million people participating in engagement actions
Funding requirements for 2021
Country needs and strategy
The number of COVID-19 infections in India is among the highest globally, and the country is also experiencing serious socio-economic impacts from the pandemic. By the second quarter of 2020, India's gross domestic product had shrunk by 23.9 per cent – the highest economic contraction since independence. An estimated 122 million workers – three quarters of them in the informal sector – have lost their jobs. COVID-19 has led to the highest mass economic migration in 70 years and has disrupted the delivery and quality of essential health, nutrition, education and child protection services. In the first weeks of the pandemic, reports of violence against children increased by 50 per cent. Access to child protection services remains limited across the country.
India is also prone to multiple hazards, including climate-related disasters. Over the past decade, the number of droughts has nearly doubled and there has been a sharp rise in the number of floods. Between 2010 and 2020, 30 million people were impacted by floods and 4.5 million people were impacted by cyclones, on average every year. In addition, the country is affected by a wide range of geophysical hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis and landslides.
The socio-economic impacts of these and other crises – including the COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters and civil strife – can push vulnerable families into extreme poverty, giving rise to distress, mental health challenges and violence, abuse and exploitation of girls and boys. Disasters can lead to food and water shortages and polluted air, with related impacts on children's health, and flooding can destroy schools and impede learning.
School closures related to COVID-19 containment measures have affected 286 million children who were enrolled in schools before the crisis. The digital divide in India is significant: Only 24 per cent of households have access to the Internet for remote learning.
Restrictive gender norms may prevent girls, including adolescents, from engaging in and benefiting from crisis preparedness and response. Children and adolescents with disabilities are also at higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 due to underlying health conditions and difficulties maintaining social distancing. While the Government has a strong capacity for evacuations and immediate response, humanitarian assistance remains essential to strengthening systems for mitigating, preparing for and responding to emergencies.
In India, UNICEF will address the direct and indirect impacts of COVID-19, natural disasters and civil strife. Drawing on its strong field presence, UNICEF's humanitarian strategy will target the most vulnerable and prioritize: (1) risk communication and community engagement, focusing on the adoption, maintenance and normalization of behaviours to reduce the spread of COVID-19; and (2) infection prevention and control in health facilities and the provision of WASH services and supplies to affected communities.
UNICEF will support the continuity of and sustained access to essential services for children, women and vulnerable communities affected by COVID-19 and natural disaster by: (1) monitoring, mentoring and supervising health facilities confronting COVID-19 and providing psychosocial support to health care providers; (2) strengthening the delivery of community outreach for COVID-19 and reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health and nutrition services; and (3) supporting the continuity of and access to health and nutrition services in disaster-affected areas.
In India, UNICEF will also: (1) support the continuity of learning, the safe reopening of schools and access to inclusive, gender-responsive formal and alternate education, including life-skills education; (2) support the continuity of early childhood development services; (3) strengthen child protection systems and build the capacities of front-line workers and partners on COVID-19 prevention and protection measures; (4) strengthen the protective role of families and provide quality rehabilitation and reintegration services for child victims of forced labour, trafficking and unsafe migration, children without parental care and children and adolescents with disabilities; (5) facilitate the participation of children, adolescents and youth in addressing violence against children and child marriage; (6) engage constructively with high-level government actors to allocate sufficient resources for robust and agile child protection systems; (7) provide life-saving and life-sustaining assistance during disasters; (8) facilitate new social protection delivery methods to reach the most vulnerable emergency-affected populations through community structures such as women's groups and village councils, and strengthen cash transfer mechanisms in line with the Grand Bargain commitments; (9) support gender-sensitive and child-centred COVID-19 response actions in village council development plans; and (10) support fiscal analysis of the impacts of COVID-19 and the adoption of innovative financing mechanisms to best respond to evolving acute vulnerabilities.
UNICEF will also strengthen resilience to predictable hazards by enhancing child-centred disaster risk management systems and risk-informed programming. Gender-responsive training will be integrated to mitigate risks of gender-based violence and build the capacities of women, girls and adolescents for effective participation.
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.