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.
- Women and children in Pakistan require urgent support due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, an ongoing nutrition emergency and recurrent disasters. There are now 346,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and the global acute malnutrition rate is 18 per cent.
- In its response to COVID-19, UNICEF is prioritizing prevention and supporting health service continuity by empowering health workers with gender-responsive training and essential equipment. In addition, UNICEF is providing timely/accurate information; promoting behaviours that reduce risk and limit transmission; facilitating infection prevention and control; supporting learning continuity; providing psychosocial support; and working to prevent stigma.
- UNICEF is also responding to the chronic nutrition emergency with curative and preventive life-saving services, including community management of acute malnutrition; maternal, infant and young child health; and infant and young child feeding services.
- UNICEF requires US$55.7 million to provide a life-saving response in Pakistan, mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 and ensure preparedness for recurring natural disasters.
Key planned results for 2021
102,413 children admitted for treatment for severe acute malnutrition
700,000 people accessing a sufficient quantity of safe water
533,451 children accessing educational services
40 million people reached with messages on access to services
Funding requirements for 2021
Country needs and strategy
The first imported case of COVID-19 was reported in Pakistan on 25 February 2020. As of 10 November 2020, there are more than 346,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including over 319,000 patients who have recovered and been discharged and 7,000 deaths. Pakistan is now facing a second wave of COVID-19 cases. The test positivity rate has increased from 1.6 per cent on 1 October to 5.1 per cent as of 10 November. A public health response is needed to prevent disease transmission and ensure the continuity of basic services.
The Government has declared 20 cities/geographical locations (23 districts) with the highest number of cases to be COVID-19 hotpots. Due to lack of continuity of essential health services, the risk of additional morbidities and mortalities is significant, and women and children urgently need access to care.
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure is urgently needed, as washing hands with soap – a key COVID-19 prevention measure – has increased the burden on water services. Without safe and effective WASH facilities/services in schools, health care facilities and communities, an estimated 550,000 children will be at risk of malnutrition and preventable diseases, including diarrhoea, typhoid, cholera and polio.
The closure of nearly 197,000 educational facilities has severely disrupted the already weak education system and jeopardized the learning of millions of children in Pakistan. Before the pandemic, 22.8 million children were out of school in Pakistan.
Pakistan is also seeing a rise in child protection risks in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, including physical and emotional mistreatment, gender-based violence, psychosocial distress and mental health challenges. A recent study found that lack of educational opportunities was a common source of stress for caregivers, making children more vulnerable to violent discipline.
Pakistan is facing a chronic nutrition emergency. The national global acute malnutrition rate is nearly 18 per cent, exceeding the internationally agreed emergency threshold of 15 per cent. If urgent action is not taken, this will lead to rising mortality rates among children under 5 years. A recent study estimates that child wasting could lead to an 18 per cent increase in young child mortality.
Pakistan also suffers from recurrent natural shocks (earthquakes, floods, drought and epidemics) and strengthened preparedness is critical to support effective responses to future emergencies.
UNICEF is using a multi-pronged approach to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic in Pakistan, including (1) responding to the pandemic; and (2) mitigating its impacts.
To respond to COVID-19, UNICEF risk communication and community engagement efforts will provide timely and accurate gender-sensitive information and promote gender-responsive behaviours to reduce risk and limit transmission. Infection prevention and control activities will include supporting health facilities, quarantine and isolation centres and communities with WASH services. UNICEF will support the Government to source and procure quality essential medical supplies and personal protective equipment. Child protection activities will include providing psychosocial support to children and families; preventing COVID-19-related stigma; and preventing and responding to violence against children.
To mitigate the impacts of COVID-19, including learning loss, UNICEF will target the most marginalized people in high-risk districts with remedial learning interventions. UNICEF will also support the development of take-home learning packs to facilitate continued learning during unforeseen school closures. Distance learning modalities, including television broadcasts, will aim to reach 6 to 7 million children in the country.
UNICEF will strengthen and build the resilience of the health system to manage and refer cases of COVID-19; ensure the continuity of life-saving basic health services such as maternal, neonatal and child health and immunization; and provide essential nutrition support for vulnerable children and families. A socio-economic impact assessment will be conducted with other United Nations agencies to identify vulnerable groups impacted by both COVID-19 and containment measures.
In response to the chronic nutrition emergency, UNICEF will work with the Government at the federal and provincial levels to support timely and quality SAM treatment and reduce morbidity and mortality due to wasting. This will include supporting case finding and referrals; building the capacities of service providers; facilitating the timely availability of adequate supplies; and supporting rigorous monitoring for corrective actions. In high-burden SAM/COVID-19 districts, UNICEF will support SAM treatment using community management of acute malnutrition, delivering services both at the facility and community levels, and supporting outreach/mobile approaches where static health facilities are not available.
Efforts will also be made to link emergency and development interventions. UNICEF will link infant and young child feeding counselling and multiple micronutrient supplementation with SAM treatment as a preventive measure against wasting and relapse.
UNICEF will also strengthen national and sub-national capacities for disaster risk reduction, mainstream disaster preparedness and response across all sectors and maintain contingency stocks for floods and earthquakes.
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 Pakistan; the strategies that we are using to respond to these situations; and the donor support that is essential in this response.