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.
- Malawi is prone to multiple natural disasters, climatic shocks, and public health emergencies. An estimated 10.8 million people, including 5.5 million children are affected by the impact of a widespread cholera outbreak, Cyclone Freddy, and food insecurity.
- Cholera has spread to all 29 districts, affecting 4.85 million people. Since the start of the outbreak, over 58,000 cumulative cases and 1,740 deaths have been reported.
- There is a risk of malnutrition due to acute food insecurity, affecting 3.8 million people in 21 districts. An estimated 573,800 children under five, and 228,000 pregnant and lactating women are at risk of malnutrition.
- Tropical Cyclone Freddy influenced torrential rains over the southern part of Malawi, with devastating implications for children and their families. At least 2.3 million people have been affected (including 51 per cent female and 56 per cent children), of whom 659,278 have been displaced.
- UNICEF Malawi requires US$87.7 million to ensure malnourished children receive quality treatment, women, girls, and boys access protection services, mobile health and nutrition teams access hard-to-reach families, children access improved learning opportunities, water sources are safe and rehabilitated, climate-resilient systems are strengthened, and cholera treatment facilities have essential supplies.
Key planned results for 2023
31,900 adolescents who have appropriate and life-saving information on how and where to access interventions on HIV prevention, care and treatment
2.2 million children screened for wasting
1.4 million children/caregivers accessing community-based mental health and psychosocial support
6.5 million people reached with critical WASH supplies
Funding requirements for 2023
Country needs and strategy
Malawi is prone to various natural disasters and climatic shocks, such as severe drought, floods, public health emergencies, and food insecurity.
Since March 2022, Malawi has witnessed the worst cholera outbreak in the last twenty years, affecting an estimated 4.85 million people. Since the start of the outbreak, 58,130 cumulative cases and 1,740 deaths have been reported across 29 districts. The case fatality rate has been worrisomely high at 3 per cent. The top-four risk factors are unsafe water sources, inconsistent latrine usage and open defecation practice, poor food hygiene, and contact with cholera cases. Malawi also faces a health workers crisis, as health workers are inequitably distributed throughout the country, with severe imbalances between the districts. In general, there is a lack of adequate health staff in remote areas compared to cities. Evidence shows that cholera's impact on children, especially girls, can also lead to trauma, and high risks of exposure to violence. These are all critical elements to be considered in the response. The Health Cluster estimates that 3.5 million people will need emergency health services.
Tropical Cyclone Freddy influenced torrential rains over the southern part of Malawi, affecting 15 districts in March 2023. These districts experienced multiple mudslides, mass debris flows from mountains and hills, which swept away villages, causing damage to properties, crops, and livestock. Severe floods followed the torrential rains, affecting at least 2.3 million people (including 51 per cent female and 56 per cent children), of whom 659,278 people have been displaced. In addition, 679 deaths were recorded, 511 people are still missing, and 2,178 people were injured during the disaster. At least 67 health facilities were damaged, and access to health services has been hampered due to damaged road infrastructure. The Protection Cluster estimates that 6.5 million people, especially children, need protection services. The Education Cluster estimates that 5.3 million children will need education support.
A total of 89,000 household latrines, 693 sanitation facilities in schools and health facilities, and 460 restrooms in public spaces collapsed. Also, 2,695 boreholes and 37 gravity-fed water schemes were damaged. As a result, there is low sanitation coverage, limited access to safe water, and poor hygienic practices. The WASH Cluster estimates that 10.8 million people are in need of WASH emergency support in 2023.
The tropical cyclone has increased the risk of undernutrition for the affected communities through disruption of household food security and livelihoods (which may lead to poor child feeding practices), exposure to environmental risks and increased communicable diseases, poor hygiene practices, lack of access to safe and clean water and compromised access to health services. The Government of Malawi projected that 3.8 million people in 27 districts and four cities require food assistance. An estimated 573,800 children under five, 456,000 adolescent girls and 228,000 pregnant and lactating women are at risk of acute malnutrition. An estimated 62,067 children under 5 are expected to be severely wasted and require treatment.
UNICEF will continue to address the multiple crises in Malawi through its long-standing partnership with government institutions and national and international organizations. By drawing on its capacity to deliver a principled, child-centered humanitarian response in line with its Core Commitment to Children, it will ensure that lifesaving and sustainable solutions, underpinned by solid preparedness, are tailored to the needs of the most vulnerable families, focusing on children, women, and people with disabilities.
The government will be supported in coordinating the WASH, Education, Child Protection, Nutrition, and Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) clusters and working groups. The expansion of response programs to all cholera and cyclone-affected districts in displacement settings and affected host communities have been prioritized. An emergency outpost offi ce in Blantyre has been established to strengthen fi eld presence to be closer to the affected population in southern Malawi.
UNICEF will continue to deliver lifesaving and preventive services, operating mobile health, HIV, and nutrition clinics to reach families in hard-to-reach areas. Ongoing efforts focus on rehabilitating damaged health facilities, enhancing the Expanded Programme on Immunization, Oral Cholera Vaccination, and other campaigns, and preventing malaria outbreaks.
Increasing community water-resilient schemes will also expand operations to deliver safe and sufficient water. The provision of essential WASH items, promotion of hygiene awareness activities, and scale-up of the institutional WASH response targeting schools, health facilities, and child-friendly spaces affected by Cyclone Freddy are ongoing. Support has been provided to cholera-affected communities through a harmonized package of interventions using the Case Area Targeted Interventions approach and strengthening its RCCE programs.
UNICEF will leverage government structures and existing safety nets to channel funds to those most in need. Using government systems, it aims to provide humanitarian cash assistance focusing on the most vulnerable children. Affected schools will be provided with temporary safe learning spaces, teaching, learning materials, and rehabilitation of damaged facilities in the school including WASH. Inclusive access to formal and informal education for out-of-school children will be enhanced. Teachers will be trained in infection prevention and control, mental health, and psychosocial support.
Women and children will be provided with integrated, inclusive psychosocial support and protection case management. Gender-based violence risk mitigation activities will be integrated into all response programs. Reporting mechanisms will be improved, and assistance to survivors of sexual exploitation and abuse will be expanded.
UNICEF will continue to promote community engagement and localization of aid that prioritizes children and women, establishing solid feedback and accountability mechanisms by leveraging local women-led organizations. More support will be provided to credible evidence generation through the research, evaluation, and knowledge management programme to inform decision-making.
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 Malawi; the strategies that we are using to respond to these situations; and the donor support that is essential in this response.