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.
- An estimated 9.2 million people, including 5.5 million children, are affected by conflict in northeast, northwest, and north-central Nigeria. Of these, more than 3.2 million people are displaced, while 1 million live in inaccessible areas. Humanitarian crises due to protracted armed conflict, armed violence, and community clashes between farmers and herders have resulted in alarming food insecurity and malnutrition, compounded by epidemics and childhood illnesses within a context of deteriorating water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) conditions.
- UNICEF will provide an integrated multisectoral response, focusing on programmatic convergence for conflict-affected populations. The rapid response mechanism will provide timely and coordinated support to areas with increased needs. A systematic gender lens will be applied to all programme designs while strengthening programme quality.
- UNICEF requires US$297.3 million to deliver an integrated package of assistance focusing on nutrition, education, WASH, health, and child protection services to address the needs of vulnerable and crisis-affected children.
Key planned results for 2023
713,000 children with severe wasting admitted for treatment
340,000 children/caregivers accessing community-based mental health and psychosocial support
782,000 children accessing formal or non-formal education, including early learning
1.2 million people accessing a sufficient quantity and quality of water
Funding requirements for 2023
Country needs and strategy
Approximately 9.2 million individuals are impacted by humanitarian crises across seven states in Nigeria: Borno, Adamawa, Yobe (northeast); Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina (northwest); and Benue (north central). Of these, an estimated 3.2 million people are displaced, including 59 per cent children and 25 per cent women. Moreover, around 1.1 million individuals in the northeast reside in areas inaccessible to aid workers. The main causes of displacement are a prolonged armed conflict in the thirteenth year in the northeast, armed violence (banditry and abductions) in the northwest, and clashes between farmers and herders in the north-central region.
According to the March 2023 Cadre Harmonisé (CH) analysis report, an estimated 4.25 million people in Nigeria may face food insecurity (CH Phase 3-5) during the 2023 lean season. This represents a 3 per cent increase from the 4.1 million individuals affected in 2022. In 2022, the number of children receiving treatment for severe wasting surpassed the annual target by 20,000, reaching 335,000 cases compared to 316,000 in 2021.
With the upcoming lean season in 2023, the number of malnourished children is anticipated to rise from 1.74 million to 2 million. The prevalence of severe wasting among children has also seen a significant increase of 14 per cent, rising from 614,000 cases in 2022 to 690,000 cases in 2023, as indicated by combined severe wasting estimates. A recent SMART survey highlights that over 354,000 children in northwestern Nigeria are projected to suffer from severe wasting in 2023, which is 130,000 more than the previous year.
In northeast Nigeria, disease outbreaks remain a significant and ongoing concern. The World Health Organization's report reveals that in 2022, 461 deaths were attributed to cholera, with 298 cases confirmed and 163 suspected. Most of these fatalities, approximately 85 per cent, occurred in Borno, while Yobe accounted for 15 per cent, and Adamawa had less than 1 per cent.
The deteriorating WASH situation in camp settings and return areas further exacerbates the risk of disease outbreaks and common illnesses for children. Cholera cases in the Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe (BAY) states are directly linked to underlying issues such as open defecation in affected communities and the lack of clean drinking water in rural areas, urban slums, camps, and similar environments.
Adding to the challenges, Nigeria has experienced the most severe flooding in a decade, impacting 31 out of 36 states, according to government sources. This further contributes to the increase in cholera outbreaks in 2023. Moreover, vaccine-preventable diseases persist, with Nigeria experiencing high measles outbreaks.
UNICEF will provide humanitarian assistance to people in need, prioritizing children and women in Nigeria’s northeast, northwest, and north-central regions. Working in partnership with authorities, United Nations agencies, and national and international non-governmental organizations, UNICEF will reach those affected by conflict and other crises. The response will be multisectoral, integrating nutrition, health, WASH, child protection, and education, with social and behavioural change as a cross-cutting component. In the northeast, UNICEF will serve as the provider of last resort and ensure sector leadership in nutrition, WASH, education, and child protection.
UNICEF and partners will strengthen the rapid response mechanism to provide immediate assistance to scale up services in areas of high need. UNICEF will use humanitarian cash transfers and shock-responsive social protection as a cross-cutting response strategy with UNICEF sectors while ensuring linkages to the Government for system strengthening and sustainability.
UNICEF will enhance its risk-informed and rights- and results-based programming all along the humanitarian-development-peace nexus. Particularly in the northwest, the humanitarian component of nexus programming will focus on supporting government-led preparedness and response via evidence-based analysis and response planning, shock-responsive social protection, and the establishment of standby partnerships. UNICEF will ensure the response is child-focused and gender-sensitive. Mitigating risks and preventing and responding to sexual exploitation, abuse, and gender-based violence will be integral to the interventions. UNICEF will strengthen localization and further integrate accountability throughout its response.
UNICEF will provide access to quality treatment for children suffering from severe wasting. To reduce malnutrition in the long term, UNICEF’s response aims to increase the proportion of infants aged 0-5 months who are exclusively breastfed to 65 per cent and the proportion of children aged 6-23 months who are receiving the minimum dietary diversity to 28 per cent by 2025.
Health interventions will ensure a timely and effective response to disease outbreaks, provide routine immunization to children under 5 years of age, and improve the primary health care system. UNICEF’s WASH response will be integrated with health and nutrition services to maximize impact, while innovative approaches will focus on sufficient and sustainable access to WASH services.
UNICEF’s education interventions will focus on increasing children’s access to formal and informal vocational skill opportunities required to address the multifaceted learning needs of children. This will occur via catch-up classes, accelerated learning programmes, vocational skills training, and pathways back to inclusive age-appropriate levels of formal education. UNICEF’s child protection response will focus on reintegrating children formerly associated with armed groups while investing in child protection services, including mental health and psychosocial support, in communities, camps, and schools.
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 Nigeria; the strategies that we are using to respond to these situations; and the donor support that is essential in this response.