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 facing multiple shocks and 9.5 million people, including 4.8 million children, are affected by the impact of a widespread cholera outbreak, increased food and nutrition insecurity, and recurrent floods.
- Cholera has spread to all 29 districts affecting 46,590 people with 1,485 deaths by 21 February 2023, including 11,500 cases and 188 deaths among children. There is a risk of malnutrition due to acute food insecurity, affecting 3.8 million people in 21 districts. In 2023, 213,259 children under five are estimated to experience wasting with 62,000 severely wasted.
- UNICEF will support WASH, Education, Nutrition, and Protection cluster coordination at the national and district levels, including the Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) subcommittee. Through active participation in the Health cluster, UNICEF will maintain regular consultations with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other humanitarian actors.
- The intersectoral approach will focus on the districts most affected by cholera and floods (considering the dynamic change in the humanitarian situation).
- UNICEF is requesting US$52.4 million to provide goods, services, and technical support in WASH, health and HIV, education, nutrition, child protection, and social protection, with RCCE integrated across all sectors.
Key planned results for 2023
600,000 children and women accessing primary healthcare
2.1 million children screened for wasting
3.1 million people accessing a sufficient quantity and quality of water
6.1 million people reached with critical WASH supplies
Funding requirements for 2023
Country needs and strategy
Since March 2022, Malawi is witnessing the worst cholera outbreak in twenty years. The outbreak began during the dry season, out of the historical seasonality of cholera in the country, on the heels of tropical storm Ana (January 2022) and Cyclone Gombe (March 2022). With the onset of the rainy season, the cases and deaths have escalated along with an increase in admitted cases. As of 21 February, the outbreak has affected 46,590 people (11,500 children), with 1,485 deaths (188 children). The case fatality rate has been worrisomely high at 3.19 per cent. The top-four risk factors are the use of unsafe water sources, low latrine usage and open defecation practice, poor food hygiene and contact with cholera cases. The lack of quality and quantity of health workers in Cholera Treatment Centers and Cholera Treatment Units contributed to inadequate access to case management and treatment. Evidence shows that cholera's impact on children, especially girls, can also lead to trauma, high risks of exposure to violence, and other child protection concerns, all critical elements to be considered in the response.
In 2023, between 20,000 to 40,000 households (100,000-200,000 people) will likely be affected by floods, with 30,000 households requiring relief assistance for up to 3 months and 15,000 households displaced. With the country still recovering from the effects of devastating floods at the beginning of 2022 induced by tropical storms Ana and Gombe, people living in the flood-prone areas risk losing the gains they have made in restoring their lives and livelihoods. There are also concerns that access to services will deteriorate further, as seen with the 2022 floods, which have caused extensive damage to infrastructure, including schools, health facilities, roads, and power transmission infrastructure. In this context, the unequal access of people and children with disabilities to various basic services can be further exacerbated.
An estimated 3.8 million people are experiencing food insecurity and are receiving humanitarian support in 21 out of 28 districts of the country as a result of low levels of production, multiple shocks, including tropical cyclones, and the impact of inflation. Of this population, 3.2 million people live in rural areas, while 623,000 are in the four cities of Blantyre, Zomba, Lilongwe and Mzuzu. A further 6.7 million people are likely to face stressed food security outcomes. Children under five and pregnant/lactating women are the most vulnerable to shock and have an increased risk of malnutrition. Some districts, such as Chikwawa, Machinga, Mulanje, Mwanza, Neno and Phalombe, show high admission rates exceeding the annual targets. It is estimated that between January and December 2023, 213,259 children under the age of 5 will experience wasting, including more than 62,000 who are likely to be severely wasted.
In line with the Core Commitments for Children and its strategic result to protect children and their communities from exposure to and the impacts of public health emergencies, UNICEF will provide immediate lifesaving and sustained assistance to populations affected by floods, cholera, and acute food insecurity and malnutrition while investing in resilience building, prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA) and district hazard risk mapping. While UNICEF will support all affected districts, the multi-sectoral response will focus on the 10 districts with the highest number of cases. UNICEF will deliver WASH, health, education, nutrition, child protection and social protection services, supported by social behaviour change and community engagement.
The WASH programme will support the provision of safe water and deliver a harmonized package of interventions through the Case Area Targeted Interventions (CATI) approach. UNICEF will support communities and institutions in implementing infection prevention and control protocols. Given climate change's negative impacts on the sustainability of WASH services and behaviours, UNICEF will promote climate-resilient development through expanded solarization and optimization of water systems and other cost-effective solutions.
To support children’s access to formal or non-formal learning, including for children with disabilities, UNICEF will provide temporary safe learning spaces, teaching, and learning materials. UNICEF will train teachers on infection prevention and control and other topics to capacitate them in emergency preparedness and response at the school level.
In areas affected by acute food and nutrition insecurity, UNICEF will provide technical assistance to the Government and enhance national systems. UNICEF will also leverage programme payment delivery systems and the national call centre to deliver messages to raise awareness for prevention.
UNICEF will provide life-saving nutrition interventions, including early identification of children under five for wasting and referral to appropriate services, management of severe wasting, strengthening of maternal, infant, young child, children with disability and adolescent nutrition (MIYCAN) and zinc supplementation. Messages will be adapted and disseminated to promote MIYCAN and health workers will be trained in counselling on child nutrition in the context of cholera.
UNICEF will provide essential supplies to health facilities for cholera treatment and support the government in delivering the Oral Cholera Vaccine campaigns (OCV) and ensuring the continuity of primary healthcare services.
UNICEF will ensure that the affected populations have access to key lifesaving messages, critical information, and platforms/spaces to voice their concerns and needs through community feedback mechanisms, including mental health and psychosocial support in response to any hazard. UNICEF will forge alliances and strengthen the capacities of stakeholders in effective communication with affected populations.
UNICEF will support the strengthening of interagency coordination at national and district levels in WASH, Education, Nutrition, and Protection clusters and will actively be involved in Health Cluster and RCCE subcommittee.
Find out more about UNICEF's work
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.