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 at high risk for climate shocks, and the El Niño weather pattern is projected to bring dry conditions that will aggravate current chronic food insecurity in 22 out of Malawi's 28 districts. In 2023, Malawi experienced its largest cholera outbreak in the past 20 years, with 59,075 cases and 1,769 deaths as of October 2023. At the same time, there are continuing outbreaks of polio and measles, along with COVID-19.
- These nutrition and health conditions are intertwined with a backdrop of increased poverty and recurring economic challenges. All told, approximately 9.4 million people, including 4.8 million children, will require humanitarian assistance in Malawi in 2024.
- In 2024, UNICEF will require $47.4 million to expedite child-centric, disability-inclusive and gender-sensitive humanitarian assistance for the most vulnerable populations, including those in hard-to-reach areas. UNICEF will continue to invest in communities and civil society organizations and support government-led resilience building, preparedness measures and humanitarian response operations.
Key planned targets
2.7 million children screened for wasting
868,560 children/caregivers accessing community-based mental health and psychosocial support
920,448 children accessing formal or non-formal education, including early learning
4.7 million people reached with critical WASH supplies
Funding requirements for 2024
Country needs and strategy
According to the seasonal forecast for 2023/24, recently released by the Malawi Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services, moderate to strong El Niño conditions are predicted for a significant portion of the November 2023 to March 2024 rain season in Malawi. From 1980–2020, 56 per cent of Malawi's population suffered impacts from 39 flood events and 15 epidemics or health emergencies.
Around 6.5 million people currently require support through disaster risk reduction and livelihoods protection interventions to avoid shifting to a higher acute food insecurity category. And the El Niño phenomenon will compound this, manifesting in Malawi as poor distribution of rainfall, prolonged dry conditions in most areas and localized flooding in some parts of the country. Around 4.4 million people (22 percent of the population) in the country are predicted to experience crisis (IPC Phase 3 or greater) levels of food insecurity and to require humanitarian assistance in the October 2023 to March 2024 period to sustain their livelihoods and adequate food intake. It is anticipated that beyond March 2024, the food security situation will deteriorate further.
Malawi has also been grappling with the worst cholera outbreak in its history, which since its start in March 2022 has caused 1,768 fatalities and 60,000 registered cases (as of 4 October 2023). With sporadic cases still being registered, there are concerns that the outbreak could worsen again when the rainy season commences in November. The country also faces endemic malaria and a re-emergence of such vaccine-preventable diseases as polio, contributing to the need for response programmes that are fit for this polycrisis context. With reduced access to health care, WASH and nutrition services due to damaged health-care facilities and underlying economic challenges, disease outbreaks, especially cholera, could continue into the next rainy season.
In view of the projected El Niño weather pattern and the anticipated poor food security outcomes – coupled with high poverty rates, the existing vulnerabilities especially in the southern areas affected by Tropical Cyclone Freddy, and the ongoing economic downturn – UNICEF is anticipating that the number of people requiring humanitarian assistance could rise to 9.4 million in 2024. Urgent action is required to protect livelihoods, reduce the deterioration of the nutrition situation and prevent the resurgence of a widespread cholera outbreak.
UNICEF will continue to address the needs of children and families in Malawi through its longstanding partnership with the Government and other partners. Programmes will reach people with an integrated package of life-saving health, nutrition, WASH, education and child protection services, cash transfers and risk communication activities.
A holistic disaster risk management approach will support the Government, other partners and local communities to strengthen emergency preparedness, build local and national capacities and provide technical expertise for child-sensitive, gender-informed, innovative and disability-inclusive humanitarian action.
There will be a focus on ensuring that the Government and other partners maintain an agile technical capacity (human resources) to provide life-saving emergency support to affected children and their families within the first two weeks of the onset of a disaster. UNICEF will enhance the resilience of systems, communities and individuals by working directly with communities and young people and strengthening the capacity of community-based platforms and front-line workers to ensure uninterrupted services during unforeseen events.
UNICEF will continue to support the Government in coordinating and co-leading the WASH, Education, Child Protection and Nutrition Clusters and support the Health and Risk Communication and Community Engagement Clusters to ensure coordinated humanitarian action and alignment with government priorities.
Cross-sectoral work will address the needs of children with disabilities, adolescents and women and girls; engage with faith leaders and community leaders to provide life-saving messages; focus on the response to gender-based violence; and further accountability to affected populations and protection from sexual exploitation and abuse. The case area targeted interventions approach will be used to respond to the cholera outbreak, together with community awareness activites and support to treatment centres.
UNICEF will continue to deliver life-saving supplies; rehabilitate damaged WASH infrastructure, schools and health facilities, administer oral cholera vaccines and operate mobile clinics to reach families in priority locations through a multisectoral and multi-partner approach; and invest in the prevention of stunting and treatment of severe wasting.
Emergency-affected schools will be provided with safe learning spaces and learning materials and UNICEF will aim to provide humanitarian cash assistance to the most vulnerable children.
UNICEF will support government efforts to mobilize resources for humanitarian cash transfers and provide technical assistance for their roll-out. UNICEF will also increase predictability and accountability by strengthening data preparedness, advancing knowledge sharing and promoting evidence-driven humanitarian innovations.
Malawi adopted the Disaster Risk Management Act in 2023, and UNICEF will provide technical support for developing a strategy, contingency plans and an information system for preparedness, risk reduction, response and recovery.
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.