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 humanitarian situation in Kenya has deteriorated rapidly due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, desert locusts, recurrent waterborne disease outbreaks, flooding and slow recovery from the 2019 drought. Access to basic social services is limited for vulnerable populations, particularly women and children. Kenya also hosts over 498,000 refugees and asylum seekers (54 per cent children).
- The pandemic has disrupted critical health services and negatively impacted child and maternal health and nutrition indicators. School closures and reduced family incomes have exacerbated child protection needs, disrupted learning for 16.1 million children and increased risks of gender-based violence for children and women. Malnutrition levels remain high: Global acute malnutrition rates exceed 15 per cent in arid areas.
- UNICEF requests US$32.7 million to address the critical needs of children and women in Kenya in 2021 through advocacy, coordination, capacity building and the implementation of life-saving and protective interventions.
Key planned results for 2021
1.6 million primary caregivers receiving infant and young child feeding counselling
250,000 people accessing a sufficient quantity of safe water
36,664 children / caregivers accessing mental health and psychosocial support
589,434 children accessing educational services
Funding requirements for 2021
Country needs and strategy
The humanitarian situation in Kenya has deteriorated rapidly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, slow recovery from the 2019 drought, a desert locust invasion, massive floods and disease outbreaks such as cholera, malaria and respiratory illness. These challenges have limited access to basic social services for vulnerable populations.
Malnutrition levels remain high, with emergency global acute malnutrition levels at 15 per cent in arid areas. Over 531,000 children aged 6 to 59 months need treatment for acute malnutrition in Kenya, including nearly 344,000 children in arid and semi-arid counties.
COVID-19 continues to negatively impact child and maternal health indicators. Critical health and nutrition services have been disrupted due to fears of contracting COVID-19, social stigma and lack of support for health workers. Over 300,000 children, adolescents and pregnant women living with HIV require uninterrupted access to life-saving treatment in the COVID-19 context.
Pandemic containment measures have left nearly 53 per cent of children living in multi-dimensional poverty in 2020, compared with 36 per cent nationally. In addition, reports of violence, abuse and exploitation of children and women are on the rise.
Mandatory school closures due to COVID-19, from March 2020 through January 2021, have affected nearly 16.1 million children (2.7 million in early childhood development; 10.1 million in primary school and 3.3 million in secondary school). Children have experienced unprecedented interruptions to learning and are facing heightened risks for gender-based violence, abuse, teen pregnancy, female genital mutilation and child labour. Children in arid counties, refugee camps and urban informal settlements are the most vulnerable. Three quarters of children have only limited access to available remote learning platforms and psychosocial support.
The strong rainy season that took place between March and May 2020 resulted in massive flooding and landslides that affected 233,000 people and left 116,000 displaced. The below-average rainfall forecasted for late 2020 and early 2021 due to La Niña are expected to drive food insecurity, increase water scarcity and give rise to disease outbreaks.
Kenya also hosts over 498,000 refugees and asylum seekers (54 per cent children). The Kenya refugee operation is affected by political developments and the humanitarian situation in the region, mainly in Somalia and South Sudan. The potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camps will increase the number of unaccompanied children and affect the provision of essential social services to vulnerable host communities.
As sector lead for nutrition, WASH, education and child protection, UNICEF will coordinate timely assessments and situation analyses to support the development of evidence-based contingency and response plans and ensure timely humanitarian action in Kenya, in line with the Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action. UNICEF will prioritize the rights of children, support critical, life-saving health and nutrition interventions with the Government and partners, advocate for increased domestic resources for humanitarian action and facilitate the continuation of basic social services in the COVID-19 context.
To cushion the adverse effects of COVID-19 among vulnerable families, UNICEF will support cash transfer programmes and strengthen community engagement, in line with the Grand Bargain commitments. UNICEF will prioritize subnational planning, budgeting and technical support, equitable investments in multi-sectoral preparedness planning and resilience-building to foster stronger linkages between humanitarian action and development programmes. Efforts will also be made to strengthen government and partner capacities in preparedness planning, coordination and information management. Humanitarian response planning and actions will be conducted in line with global action plans to support preparedness.
The Nutrition Surge Approach will be rolled out to support an evidence-based nutrition response. UNICEF will provide technical, financial, coordination and service delivery assistance to support equitable access to inclusive education in emergencies, including for refugees, in line with the Global Compact for Refugees and the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework. Protection services, including mental health and psychosocial support, will focus on protection against violence, abuse, exploitation and gender-based violence. UNICEF will strengthen community-based child protection systems to improve community outreach, raise awareness and promote preventive and protective behaviours. This will include community engagement and critical behaviour change messaging on violence prevention, gender-based violence, HIV, nutrition and health.
UNICEF will work with all partners to implement and operationalize zero tolerance on sexual exploitation and abuse. All partner organizations will sign mandatory prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse commitments. UNICEF will support the mitigation of gender-based violence risks across sectors and and promote community access to safe and trusted reporting channels.
The response will prioritize accountability to beneficiaries through partnerships with citizen engagement networks and using appropriate communication channels such as short message service and radio to receive feedback and provide information to beneficiaries on UNICEF's mandate and interventions. Multiple information sources will be analysed to obtain feedback from various audience groups to enhance the quality of UNICEF and partners’ humanitarian action.
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 Kenya; the strategies that we are using to respond to these situations; and the donor support that is essential in this response.