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 10.6 million people – including 6.2 million children and 1.2 million people living in inaccessible areas – need humanitarian assistance in northeast Nigeria. There are over 600,000 crisis-affected people in the northeast with little access to humanitarian support. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has exacerbated humanitarian needs and devastated weak service infrastructure.
- UNICEF will provide life-saving assistance to 4.3 million crisis-affected people, including to address severe acute malnutrition (SAM); improve access to safe water and sanitation; provide integrated health services; improve the psychosocial well-being of children and caregivers; and increase access to education. Services will be delivered within the framework of COVID-19 response plans through inter-agency coordination and partnership with the Government and others.
- UNICEF requires US$187.8 million to deliver an integrated package of nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and education services to address the needs of vulnerable and crisis-affected children.
Key planned results for 2021
386,926 children admitted for treatment for severe acute malnutrition
624,000 people accessing a sufficient quantity of safe water
218,000 children/caregivers accessing mental health and psychosocial support
1.3 million children accessing educational services
Funding requirements for 2021
Country needs and strategy
Over a decade of armed conflict in northeast Nigeria has resulted in large-scale population displacements. In 2021, an estimated 10.6 million people – including 1.9 million internally displaced persons and 1.2 million people living in inaccessible areas – will require humanitarian assistance across the northeast. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the needs of affected people and further impacted weak basic service infrastructure.
Insecurity in the northwest has escalated due to persistent herder-farmer tensions, rising crime and organized attacks by non-state armed groups. The violence has left over 600,000 people in need and led 41,000 to flee to neighbouring Niger. The relative calm brought about by political mediation in mid-2019 has dissipated, with violent incidents increasing in frequency and severity. This deterioration has resulted in the proliferation of armed groups, including potential linkages with the Lake Chad Basin crisis. Without a response, the situation in the northwest could deteriorate akin to the crisis in the northeast.
Across targeted states, over 5.1 million people are food insecure. This situation, coupled with poor access to basic services, is exacerbating the vulnerability of crisis-affected children and women. Based on current global acute malnutrition levels, an estimated 807,000 children under 5 years will be acutely malnourished in 2021 in the northeast. Rapid assessments in the northwest indicate proxy global acute malnutrition rates exceeding 15 per cent, with some locations indicating over 30 per cent.
WASH services remain far from Sphere standards due to pre-existing underdevelopment and lack of space for facilities in overcrowded camps. The mortality rate due to unsafe WASH services is 69 people in 100,000 – among the highest in Africa. Over 35 per cent of health facilities have been damaged due to conflict in the northeast, an area prone to malaria, cholera and measles outbreaks.
Children remain at risk of trafficking, abduction and sexual violence across the country. Twenty-one per cent of reported cases of gender-based violence involve children, and 35 per cent of these children are unaccompanied or separated. Children are in urgent need of quality education, and prolonged school closures are affecting nearly 4.2 million students. Overall, nearly 10 per cent of children are out of school. Learning outcomes remain poor: Two children in three who finish their primary educations are unable to do basic arithmetic. Insecurity has affected school attendance and access, with over 1,400 schools damaged due to conflict.
In coordination with the Government, other United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations, UNICEF will target the most vulnerable populations in Nigeria in 2021, including internally displaced persons and host communities affected by conflict and natural disasters. UNICEF's response will be integrated and multi-sectoral, focusing on conflict-affected populations in the northeast and northwest and emergency COVID-19-related needs across the country. UNICEF co-leads the nutrition, WASH and education sectors and the child protection sub-sector in collaboration with the Government. UNICEF will partner with international and national non-governmental organizations to ensure rapid response and coordinated, localized support to affected populations.
UNICEF and partners will be among the first responders to the crises through targeted WASH, nutrition and health assistance and education, child protection and risk communication activities. The programme strategy will include the continuous sensitization of communities, including training for mothers/caregivers on screening children for malnutrition. Through its outreach to detect, treat and refer cases of SAM, UNICEF will provide beneficiaries with messages on preventing infectious diseases. In WASH, UNICEF will support improved access to services, gender-sensitive programming and mid- to long-term initiatives while maintaining emergency response capacities. Children who are displaced, separated, unaccompanied and/or formerly associated with armed groups will receive psychosocial support, early learning/stimulation and learning through play. UNICEF will scale up coverage and improve quality gender-based violence services through case management, medical assistance, psychosocial support and access to legal support. The education response will strengthen linkages between humanitarian action and development programming by improving access and quality through top-line government engagement and on-the-ground support to partners. UNICEF will also pilot shock-responsive social protection initiatives to increase cash-based responses to recurrent natural disasters, in line with the Grand Bargain commitments.
To respond to COVID-19, UNICEF will support the Government on containment and mitigation using a multi-layered response strategy aligned with the Government’s response plan and coordinated with the National Center for Disease Control/Presidential Task Force. UNICEF will harness its expertise in outbreak management and rapid procurement and its expansive geographical presence and programme coverage to support decentralized, evidence-based activities. Throughout the response, UNICEF will ensure the continuity of confidential, safe and accessible community reporting mechanisms for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse.
UNICEF will continue to engage through the access working group, the operational humanitarian country team and the humanitarian country team on continuous context analysis and sustained advocacy with the Government to improve access and reach inaccessible populations.
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.