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.
- Recurrent natural disasters affect the population of Nepal every year. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has stretched the capacities of local governments responding to these needs, and undermined access to education and livelihoods. In 2020, nearly 8 million children were out of school and the country has suffered significant job losses. In 2021, natural disasters and COVID-19 will impact 1.4 million people, including over 568,000 children.
- UNICEF's humanitarian strategy in Nepal is two-pronged, comprehensive, integrated and multi-sectoral. It focuses on (1) preventing morbidity and mortality; and (2) building community resilience.
- UNICEF requires US$25.5 million to address the needs of Nepali children and their families. This funding will allow UNICEF to reach 450,000 children and women with primary health care; 115,000 children under 5 years with critical life-saving nutritious supplements; and 15 million people with life-saving messages on access gender- and disability-sensitive services.
Key planned targets for 2021
12,000 facility and community health workers trained on infection prevention and control
372,000 people reached with critical water, sanitation and hygiene supplies and services
42,000 women and children accessing gender-based violence risk mitigation / prevention / response
200,000 children accessing educational services
Funding requirements for 2021
Country needs and strategy
Nepal faces frequent disasters, including floods, landslides, earthquakes and disease outbreaks such as cholera, dengue fever, and now, COVID-19. Every year, more than 500 disasters occur in Nepal that result in loss of life and the destruction of infrastructure and impact people's livelihoods. An estimated 2 per cent of gross domestic product is lost every year due to disasters. In 2020, Nepal suffered a prolonged monsoon that led to displacements and 314 deaths. There are 111 people missing due to floods and landslides.
Based on a recent national survey, 12 per cent of children in Nepal are suffering from acute malnutrition, including 2.9 per cent who have severe acute malnutrition (SAM). Only 19 per cent of the population has access to a source of improved drinking water that is free of E. coli. Disasters exacerbate these challenges and aggravate the impacts on children.
The COVID-19 pandemic is compounding the vulnerabilities of the poor and newly impoverishing others. COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise, reaching nearly 67,000 as of 23 September 2020. Larger clusters of cases have been recorded in Kathmandu and other densely populated areas. While it is still difficult to predict the impacts that COVID-19 and natural disasters will have in 2021, projections anticipate a large increase in the number of cases and overlapping impacts on families and children with limited means. For example, many of the children impacted by school closures are also affected by natural disasters, further undermining their access to alternative learning.
As of August 2020, COVID-19 has had serious multidimensional impacts on the population. Sixty-one per cent of households have lost income; one quarter of households are struggling to feed their families; and 11 per cent of children report feelings of anger, irritation and gloominess. Death by suicide, which is a growing problem in Nepal, including for children, has been on the rise during the pandemic.
While many health workers, police officers, social workers and other service providers have continued to provide services during the shutdown, some critical support services have been restricted to curtail the spread of COVID-19. Just 12 per cent of children with SAM have been enrolled in treatment despite signs of growing household food insecurity. The proportion of rape victims who are children has risen to nearly 70 per cent. Innovative solutions will be needed to avert the continued decline of services and child well-being.
UNICEF will respond to natural hazards and rising COVID-19 cases in Nepal with a two-pronged, comprehensive, integrated and multi-sectoral humanitarian strategy that includes: (1) preventing excess morbidity and mortality while building community resilience to the ongoing pandemic and future disasters; and (2) mitigating social and economic impacts through focused humanitarian support to the most vulnerable communities and groups, including children, adolescent girls, women and people with disabilities, particularly in areas facing the double threat of COVID-19 and natural disasters.
UNICEF's response is aligned with government and United Nations strategies and the Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action. UNICEF will lead efforts on risk communication, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), nutrition, child protection and education, while providing critical support in health, social protection and logistics. Priority interventions will ensure the continuity of basic services during the pandemic, including infection prevention and control in health facilities and communities; strengthen emergency preparedness and response systems; and build capacities for risk-informed planning and resilience. In social protection and nutrition, UNICEF will promote a cash-plus nutrition behaviour change approach as part of longer-term and systematic shock-responsive social protection and social behaviour change efforts. The approach will close pre-existing gaps between humanitarian and development outcomes, mitigate risks and build resilience.
Across sectors, UNICEF will work closely with the Government at the federal, provincial and local levels and civil society organizations to build national emergency capacities for timely response and support localization. Building on its communications expertise and private sector partnerships, UNICEF will leverage commitments from all segments of society to improve results for children and women. In mental health and child protection, UNICEF will reinforce government capacities with civil society partners to protect children from violence, abuse, exploitation and discrimination.
In education, social protection and health, UNICEF will provide technical assistance that helps government systems respond better. In education, for example, UNICEF will directly support children through the provision of distance learning materials and temporary learning spaces; identify alternative and innovative forms of education for marginalized children, including those with a disability; and help local governments reopen schools safely.
With its network of field offices, UNICEF is able to lead on needs assessment, response and relief coordination efforts following a disaster. UNICEF's programming approach embraces cross-cutting issues, including accountability to affected populations and interventions focused on gender-based violence, disability, inclusion and engagement of adolescents and youth in emergency preparedness and response.
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 Nepal; the strategies that we are using to respond to these situations; and the donor support that is essential in this response.