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. Return to main appeal page.
- Well over 100 million people, including more than 50 million children are projected to need humanitarian assistance in South Asia due to climate-induced natural disasters, economic and nutrition crises, public health emergencies and complex political and refugee crises.
- UNICEF will continue supporting the efforts of governments in crisis-affected contexts to ensure children and adolescents, especially girls, and their caregivers are provided with life-saving health, nutrition, education, protection and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services.
- UNICEF will continue partnering with governments and communities to enhance their emergency preparedness and disaster risk reduction capacities to ensure child-sensitive and gender-responsive humanitarian action. This includes building shock-responsive systems that can mitigate the growing impact of climate change throughout the region.
- UNICEF requires US$21.3 million to support humanitarian action throughout the region. This includes US$9.3 million to address the humanitarian needs of nearly 600,000 people in Bhutan, Maldives and Nepal; and $12 million to strengthen preparedness for recurrent emergencies and to support emergency response.
500,800 people in need of health assistance
585,000 people in need of nutrition assistance
655,000 children in need of protection services
364,000 children in need of education support
280,000 people lack access to safe water
Funding requirements for 2023
Regional needs and strategy
South Asia is home to more than 616 million children, many exposed to sudden-onset and protracted emergencies including floods, cyclones and earthquakes, along with challenging economic circumstances, food/nutrition crises and political turmoil. In 2022, more than 50 million children required humanitarian assistance.
Up to 71 million children in South Asia are exposed to five or more climate-related hazards, which increasingly impacts their lives and livelihoods. Countries including Bangladesh and Pakistan experienced exceptional disasters in 2022. These kinds of situations will dramatically worsen in the decades to come and will lead to further breakdown of coping mechanisms. In addition, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic crippled South Asia, and many countries are yet to recover from the subsequent severe socioeconomic challenges. Several countries are navigating rising inflation and facing difficulties financing fiscal and trade deficits, compromising the availability of basic services.
In Afghanistan, more than 24 million people, including 13 million children, need humanitarian assistance. The humanitarian situation is complex, driven by a political and economic crisis, drought, high food insecurity, eroded basic services and recurrent natural hazards. Bangladesh, India and Pakistan faced catastrophic floods that severely impacted the lives of nearly 42 million people and damagedmore than 1 million homes. The economic crisis in Sri Lanka has contributed to more than 6.3 million people being moderately or severely acute food insecure. All told, 7.6 million children in South Asia suffer from severe wasting - half the global burden.
The countries noted above have standalone appeals. However, several countries in the region also face persistent humanitarian needs. Bhutan, Maldives and Nepal, which are three countries covered under this regional appeal, are highly susceptible to natural hazards. For example, more than 500 disaster events occur annually in Nepal. And Maldives, with an elevation of less than 2 metres above sea level – one of the lowest-lying countries globally – is greatly threatened by rising sea levels, coastal storms and associated inundation. Bhutan is located in one of the most seismically active zones in the Himalayan belt and its risk level is further exacerbated by climate change. Overall, the increasing frequency and intensity of climate-related disasters poses critical threats to the well-being of nearly 1 million people (including 400,000 children) in Bhutan, Maldives and Nepal, putting their access to essential and life-saving health, nutrition, education, protection and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services at risk.
Given the multiple and diverse crises that occur in the region, UNICEF is focusing on an immediate and life-saving response in South Asia. To alleviate the suffering of children and families, multisectoral responses that include health, nutrition, education, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), child protection and social protection (including humanitarian cash transfers), remain a priority. To facilitate timely, quality humanitarian response, the regional surge roster system has been reinforced and will deploy expert capacity to countries in crisis, when and where required. To mitigate the impact of disasters, UNICEF will focus on systems strengthening and building the resilience of communities faced with recurrent shocks. UNICEF will also prioritize adolescent and youth participation and engagement, gender and disability inclusion and social and behavioural change.
UNICEF’s cluster and sector leadership roles, carried out in coordination with national and local stakeholders, will be enhanced as needed. In collaboration with partners, including Governments, UNICEF will also aim to meet its Grand Bargain commitments,16 promoting localization of humanitarian action, ensuring that accountability to affected populations is integrated into programming and strengthening capacities to prevent and address sexual exploitation and abuse.
UNICEF will further invest in child-centred disaster risk reduction and preparedness by working closely with regional and national authorities and stakeholders on risk analysis and joint contingency planning. Readiness to respond will be further enhanced through training and simulations guided by the Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action.
In Bhutan, Maldives and Nepal, UNICEF will focus on strengthening partner capacities, enhancing risk analysis and advocating for risk mitigation policies and integrated preparedness and response mechanisms, including the pre-positioning of essential supplies at national and subnational levels. In Nepal, UNICEF will continue to provide life-saving services targeting the most vulnerable and also fulfill its cluster lead and co-lead roles in nutrition, WASH and protection sectors and in the cash and accountability to affected populations working groups. The country offices will also engage with relevant authorities, organizations and communities – including young people – to enable more disaster- and climate-resilient programmes linking humanitarian and development activities.
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.