South Asia Region Appeal
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. Read more about this year’s appeal here.
South Asia snapshot
South Asia is highly prone to natural and human-caused disasters, and the nature and magnitude of disasters have become more intense and frequent due to climate change, environmental degradation and rapid and uncontrolled urbanization. Following the heavy 2019 monsoon rains, 25 million people (36 per cent children) were affected by floods across the region, including over 20 million people in India, 4 million in Bangladesh, 500,000 in Nepal and 300,000 in Afghanistan. The floods displaced millions of people and damaged infrastructure for basic social services, leading to reduced access, deterioration in the quality of services, increased risks of disease outbreaks and heightened protection challenges.
Concurrently, Afghanistan and Pakistan are recovering from one of the worst droughts in decades. Some 1.2 million people in Sindh province, Pakistan, are experiencing crisis and emergency levels of food insecurity. Drought conditions have exacerbated the already elevated levels of child malnutrition, with acute malnutrition rates as high as 29 per cent in Sindh, more than double the emergency threshold.
Countries such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan remain on high alert for a major earthquake; and cyclones and floods remain a major threat to Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. In India, 38 per cent of the country is at risk of drought due to the poor monsoon rains. In addition, 6.3 million people are affected by protracted conflict in Afghanistan and 2.9 million internally displaced people and returnees in Pakistan require assistance.
Since 2018, the number of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh has grown to nearly 1 million. With no concrete progress made to date on the voluntary and sustainable return of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar, 1.2 million refugees and people in host communities, including 683,000 children, are at risk of disease outbreaks, flooding and protection risks, and require urgent humanitarian assistance.
Funding requirements for 2020
The UNICEF humanitarian strategy in South Asia aims to strengthen country capacities to ensure timely, effective and quality emergency response. This includes enhancing inter-agency coordination and building skills at the regional, national and sub-national levels to address the needs of women, children and adolescents during emergencies. UNICEF will also invest in regional and national capacities for emergency preparedness by facilitating regular regional risk analysis, supporting the development of robust country contingency plans, conducting simulations and strengthening national and sub-national partner capacities.
The Regional Office for South Asia will continue to strengthen capacities on humanitarian cash transfers, accountability to affected populations, gender-based violence, disability, inclusion and engagement of adolescents and youth in emergency response. The humanitarian strategy will feed into an overall approach to facilitating a comprehensive sustainable and enabling environment that leaves no child behind – whether due to shocks, disaster risk or poverty – by developing and implementing risk-informed policies and programmes. UNICEF will support country offices to develop and improve social safety nets and shock-responsive social protection mechanisms to respond to repeated droughts, floods and other shocks and build community resilience.
The South Asia Regional Rapid Response Mechanism and country emergency rosters will be further strengthened to increase deployable capacities. Given the high-risk context, which is characterized by the repetitive and predictable nature of disasters, UNICEF will invest in evidence generation and knowledge management to better apply best practices and lessons learned throughout the region. In South Asia, disaster trends and conflict dynamics have sub-regional dimensions that require strategic approaches and collaboration. UNICEF will therefore continue to strengthen regional partnerships, including with the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation Disaster Management Centre and other stakeholders, to fulfil the Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action (CCCs) and address the immediate needs of 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 South Asia; the strategies that we are using to respond to these situations; and the donor support that is essential in this response.