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.
- Armed conflict in northeast Nigeria continues to adversely affect the lives and prospects of 7.7 million people, 1 60 per cent of them children. This is down slightly from the 8.3 million people impacted in 2022. Two million of those affected are internally displaced. Additionally, 474,000 people in the country's northwest and 489,000 in Benue State have been displaced due to armed violence, including farmer-herder violence. These crises contribute to food and nutrition insecurity and lead to child protection risks. Compounding this are flooding, childhood illnesses, disease outbreaks and the lack of adequate WASH facilities – all affecting children's ability to realize their rights to survive and thrive.
- UNICEF will address these challenges through a multisectoral response and an integrated intervention package. A gender-inclusive durable solutions lens will be incorporated into programme design; and the feedback of affected people sought and addressed.
- UNICEF requires $214.7 million to deliver integrated nutrition, WASH, health, child protection and education assistance to 4.8 million people in Nigeria, including 3.4 million children in need. This includes $100 million for nutrition support, $40 million for education and $28 million for WASH interventions.
Key planned targets
3.2 million children and women accessing primary health care
861,685 children with severe wasting admitted for treatment
259,000 children/caregivers accessing community-based mental health and psychosocial support
866,486 people accessing a sufficient quantity and quality of water
Funding requirements for 2024
Country needs and strategy
An estimated 3 million people (59 per cent children) are internally displaced in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States in Nigeria's northeast; Sokoto, Zamfara and Katsina States in the northwest; and Benue State in north-central Nigeria. The proportion of displaced people living in camps is 45 per cent in the northeast; 12 per cent in the northwest; and 38 per cent in Benue State. Displacement is primarily due to protracted armed conflict in its fifteenth year in the northeast, armed violence (banditry and abduction) in the northwest and climate-related clashes between farmers and herders in the country's Middle Belt. A multsectoral needs assessment published in early 2023 for the three northwestern states highlighted WASH, shelter and education as prioritized needs. The humanitarian crises and government returnees programme raise urgent concerns about the needs of children affected by conflict, including grave violations, gender-based violence and related child protection needs.
In the northeast, all nine formal camps for internally displaced persons around Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, were closed by the Government and 160,000 people relocated to more remote areas. Yet 293 camps across the three affected states remain open, and displacement in informal camps or among host communities continues in Maiduguri.
Polio, diphtheria and cholera continue to affect children in Nigeria. Cholera is endemic, with 2,860 suspected cases (with a 2.9 per cent case fatality rate) in 2023. A diphtheria outbreak centred in the northwestern state of Kano had recorded 9,486 confirmed cases in 2023 as of 12 October. Notably, 60 per cent of cases are among unvaccinated children, highlighting the humanitarian consequences of development-related vulnerabilities.
Climate-related disasters are taking a toll, including flooding, which heavily impacts southern Nigeria. In late 2022, the country experienced the most severe flooding in a decade, with 4.4 million people affected, including 2.6 million children. Some 2.4 million people were temporarily displaced due to flooding and sought refuge in makeshift shelters, including in schools and health facilities, which adversely affected the continuity of basic services.
Around 2.6 million children suffered from severe wasting in 2023 – a near-doubling of the severe wasting burden compared with 2022, when 1.4 million children were affected. Compared with 2022, the northeast saw a 68 per cent increase in admissions of severely malnourished children with medical complications, partly due to a measles outbreak that claimed 50 lives. In the northwest, while malnutrition rates decreased in Katsina State in 2023, a large part of Sokoto State recorded emergency levels of severe wasting. 16 Additionally, access to clean water and sanitation is deteriorating; and hostilities continue to disrupt education, with approximately 90 schools closed in the northeast.
UNICEF will provide humanitarian assistance to people in need, prioritizing conflict-affected children and women in Nigeria’s northeast (Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States), as well as violence-affected people in the northwest (Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara States) and north-central regions (Benue State). And UNICEF will further engage in Jigawa State for emergency preparedness. Response in other states will be based on sudden-onset needs (e.g., climate-related disasters and infectious disease outbreaks).
In the northeast, UNICEF will serve as the provider of last resort and ensure sector leadership in nutrition, WASH, education and child protection. In coordination with the Inter-Sector Coordination Group, UNICEF and partners will leverage the Rapid Response Mechanism to scale up services in areas of high need.
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 multisectoral response will prioritize an integrated package of interventions (e.g., nutrition, health and WASH or education and child protection), with integration of mental health and psychosocial support throughout. Social and behaviour change interventions will remain a key component.
A gender and inclusion lens will be integrated into programme design, while affected people’s feedback will be sought and addressed, including via localization of response efforts. Protection from and response to sexual exploitation and abuse continue to be at the heart of all interventions.
Working along the humanitarian–development–peace nexus, UNICEF will expand its risk-informed and rights- and results-based programming. In the north, the focus will be on government-led preparedness and response via evidence-based analysis and response planning. Sustaining good practices in contingency stock procurement will ensure readiness. In addition, UNICEF will use humanitarian cash transfers and shock-responsive social protection, while strengthening linkages to national systems.
UNICEF will provide access to quality treatment for children suffering from severe wasting, while integrating prevention activities. These include iron and folic acid supplementation for adolescent girls and women and counselling of parents on infant and young child feeding practices and child spacing. Health interventions will focus on the timely response to disease outbreaks. UNICEF’s WASH response will be integrated into health and nutrition services (e.g., by focusing on WASH facilities in primary health care centres) to maximize its impact. UNICEF’s education interventions will focus on increasing children’s learning via access to formal and informal education. The primary protection focus will be on prevention and response services, especially reintegrating children formerly associated with armed groups, enhancing mental health and psychosocial support and addressing the needs of unaccompanied and separated children.
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.