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.
- UNICEF’s Level 3 Scale-Up Activation for the Horn of Africa, in conjunction with the Inter-Agency Standing Committee System-Wide Scale-Up, aims to respond in Somalia to an estimated 7.7 million people (including 5.1 million children, 4.4 million girls and women) who will need humanitarian assistance in 2023. These needs stem from the impact of the ongoing drought, conflict, displacement and the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and other infectious diseases. Children in Somalia are disproportionately affected by the harsh drought: 1.8 million children under age 5 are expected to experience wasting by July 2023.
- Significant water shortages affect an estimated 6.4 million people. This limited access to safe water has triggered a spike in cholera cases, with 10,440 cholera cases, including 59 deaths (a case fatality rate of 0.6 percent) reported.
- UNICEF partners with the Government, civil society organizations and the private sector to implement its humanitarian, development and resilience-building programmes, which focus on the most vulnerable groups, including survivors of gender-based violence and children with disabilities.
- UNICEF is appealing for US$272.3 million to provide humanitarian services to 3 million people in Somalia, including 2 million children. With this funding, UNICEF will expand delivery of essential multisectoral essential services, with a focus on hard-to-reach areas. UNICEF will also strengthen its leadership role in cluster coordination.
Key planned results for 2023
356,923 children vaccinated against measles
464,124 children with severe wasting admitted for treatment
257,000 children/caregivers accessing community-based mental health and psychosocial support
300,000 children accessing formal or non-formal education, including early learning
Funding requirements for 2023
Country needs and strategy
Somalia is currently experiencing a historic dry spell with a predicted fifth consecutive failed rainy season, a situation not witnessed in more than four decades. More than 90 per cent of the country is experiencing severe to extreme drought conditions. The severe drought has combined with increased conflict and high food prices to worsen the humanitarian situation. An estimated 6.7 million people are experiencing severe food insecurity, including 2.2 million people who are estimated to be be in Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) Phase 4 (emergency levels) and at least 300,000 people in Phase 5 (catastrophe levels). Between July 2022 and June 2023, an estimated 1.8 million children under the age of 5 will experience wasting, including more than 513,000 who are likely to be severely wasted. The total acute malnutrition burden is 54.5 per cent among the children in Somalia.
The WASH Cluster reports that 6.4 million people face significant water shortages. The limited access to safe water has triggered a spike in acute watery diarrhoea/cholera cases. Since January 2022, 25 of the country's 74 drought-affected districts have recorded 10,440 cholera cases and 59 deaths, a case fatality rate of 0.6 per cent.
The drought, insecurity and conflict have further degraded children's access to education and their protective environment. More than 1,000 grave child rights violations committed by armed forces were verified in the first half of 2022. More than 3.1 million children are out of school, and 900,000 are at risk of dropping out. The drought newly displaced 1,170,842 people between January and September 2022. While drought and looming famine are the major causes of internal displacement in Somalia, the revival of armed conflict between the federal government, the armed group Al-Shabaab and clan militias has also led to an upsurge in displacement. In September 2022, 101,000 people were displaced due to conflict and insecurity. In addition, an estimated 6.5 million people lack access to essential health services. And, from January to May, a 200 per cent rise in cases of gender-based violence was reported compared with the same period in 2021.
With limited livelihood assets, few income-earning opportunities, rising food prices and high reliance on external humanitarian assistance, an estimated 71 per cent of Somalia's population lives below the poverty line. The urban poor – who already spend a disproportionately large amount of their income (60-80 per cent) on food – continue to struggle to feed themselves.
The operating environment in Somalia is complex, marked by insecurity, armed clashes, poor infrastructure and movement restrictions. An estimated half a million people live within territory controlled by Al Shabaab, largely out of reach for humanitarian partners. Communities facing the impact of the drought and conflict often live in remote and hard-to-reach areas. While unable to reach everybody, UNICEF and its partners continue to scale up their presence through a variety of modalities to rapidly deliver and sustain access to essential services.
UNICEF’s humanitarian strategy in Somalia responds to needs identified in the 2022 Humanitarian Needs Overview and cluster priorities.
To prevent famine, UNICEF is accelerating delivery of multisectoral life-saving assistance on a no-regrets basis, ensuring the inclusion of marginalized groups. UNICEF is gradually expanding its field presence through three field offices and five remote hubs and has enhanced coordination with other United Nations agencies, the Government, civil society organizations and the private sector. UNICEF has pre-positioned emergency supplies in nine supply hubs for rapid humanitarian response. UNICEF is also joining efforts with the International Organization for Migration and World Food Programme (WFP) to deliver a minimum response package in three drought-affected districts, and is also collaborating with the World Health Organization and WFP in 16 hard-to-reach districts.
UNICEF’s humanitarian response contributes to building resilience in communities and systems through programmes that strengthen local systems, reinforce localization of the response, build the capacity of communities and prioritize sustainable technical solutions that save lives.
In 2023, UNICEF will focus on improving the quality of its humanitarian programming, ensuring strong links between humanitarian and development efforts, mainstreaming the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse and prioritizing vulnerable population groups, including people with disabilities. A systematic gender lens will be applied to all analyses and programme design. UNICEF will scale up efforts to reduce gender-based violence gender-based violence risks in humanitarian assistance and provide specialized related response services for women and girls, including gender-based violence services. Moreover, children associated with armed groups will have access to psychosocial support and life skills to facilitate their reintegration.
With dedicated full-time support for coordination and information management at the national and subnational levels, UNICEF leads the Nutrition and WASH Clusters and co-leads the Education Cluster and the Child Protection Area of Responsibility.
UNICEF will continue to provide life-saving health and nutrition interventions through community-based activities. UNICEF will support nutrition services targeting children and pregnant/lactating mothers with nutrition screening, vitamin A supplementation, promotion of safe infant and young child feeding practices and treatment for severe wasting.
UNICEF’s water and sanitation programme will establish safe, sustainable water supply systems by drilling strategic boreholes; maintaining, upgrading and expanding water structures and sanitation facilities; and distributing hygiene kits and information.
Vulnerable children and youth will participate in safe and protective educational programmes that allow for the continuation of learning and development of literacy and numeracy skills, along with opportunities for structured recreation and play.
Vulnerable children and families will receive social protection services, including humanitarian cash transfers, in line with Grand Bargain commitments. UNICEF will leverage its current support to the Government's social transfers delivery mechanisms.
Find out more about UNICEF's work
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 Somalia; the strategies that we are using to respond to these situations; and the donor support that is essential in this response.