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 October 2019, the Government of Lesotho declared a drought emergency, following poor rains and high temperatures in 2018–2019 and the El Niño drought in 2015–2016. About one quarter of the population (508,125 people, including 213,360 children, with 433,000 in rural areas and 75,000 in urban areas) require humanitarian assistance.
In 2020, all 10 districts of Lesotho are expected to face crisis levels of food insecurity. High temperatures are rapidly drying water reservoirs, impacting access to safe water for populations in need and increasing the risk of waterborne diseases, with a reported increase in cases of diarrhoeal disease in recent months.
Acute malnutrition is on the rise, particularly among vulnerable groups, including children under 5 years, pregnant and lactating women, people living with HIV and people with tuberculosis. Some 2,500 children are at risk of severe acute malnutrition (SAM).
Rising food insecurity is undermining HIV treatment adherence, retention and success. Families impacted by the drought are resorting to negative coping mechanisms to survive, including transactional sex and early marriage, both of which significantly affect women and girls. Children and women are at heightened risk of abuse, violence and other protection issues.
Key planned results for 2020
85,800 children supported through social protection safety nets
205,000 people accessing the agreed quantity of safe water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene
114,400 children and women exposed to violence received prevention, risk mitigation and response services, including access to mental health and psychosocial support
Funding requirements for 2020
UNICEF will support the Government of Lesotho to respond to the humanitarian needs of 340,000 people affected by drought, including 213,400 children. This will include the implementation of life-saving interventions in nutrition, health, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), social and child protection, education and HIV and AIDS.
UNICEF will provide technical support on therapeutic nutrition and the prevention of wasting and stunting to manage SAM and other co-morbidities.
In WASH, UNICEF will provide life-saving access to drought-resilient water and hygiene services in communities, health care facilities and schools.
Given the high HIV prevalence rates in Lesotho, UNICEF will support the immediate humanitarian needs of women and children at risk of or living with HIV, including through continuous access to information and critical services.
Social safety nets will help the most affected children and their families cope with the drought; safe and secure learning environments for children will be enhanced; access to information about child protection services will be increased; and the capacities of child protection service providers will be strengthened.
UNICEF will also support the United Nations Humanitarian Country Team in the areas of disaster preparedness and contingency planning.
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 Lesotho; the strategies that we are using to respond to these situations; and the donor support that is essential in this response.