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.
- In 2024, an estimated 2.6 million people, including 1.7 million children, are projected to require urgent humanitarian assistance in Zimbabwe due to the El Niño-induced drought, a food and nutrition crisis, floods, regional migration and the cholera outbreak. A total of 1.7 million people will need life-saving health, HIV and nutrition services. A total of 860,757 people, including 473,416 children, will require safe water for drinking and domestic purposes.
- UNICEF will increase support to government-led national and subnational structures in 2024 to enable delivery of multisectoral life-saving services and mainstream social and behaviour change, accountability to affected populations, gender equality and prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse across the interventions.
- UNICEF requires $26.8 million to meet humanitarian needs in six priority districts 2 in Zimbabwe in 2024 in (among other sectors) health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and social protection.
Key planned targets
1.8 million children and women accessing primary health care
18,375 children with severe wasting admitted for treatment
130,518 children accessing formal or non-formal education, including early learning
430,379 people accessing a sufficient quantity and quality of water
Funding requirements for 2024
Country needs and strategy
Zimbabwe continues to grapple with such climate-related disasters as floods and extremely dry weather phenomena, including the anticipated El Niño-induced drought. The drought is projected to result in livelihood loss, water scarcity and disruption of social protection services and healthy food environments that support good diets. A total of 2.7 million people are projected to be food insecure during the peak hunger period. Malnutrition remains a key cause of the health burden in Zimbabwe, with a quarter of children stunted. Wasting significantly increased during the lean season of 2022–23, from 4.5 per cent in 2020 to 7.2 per cent in 2022, the highest prevalence in the last 15 years. Currently, stunting prevalence is 26 per cent, while wasting prevalence is 4 per cent. In 2022, Zimbabwe also experienced a measles outbreak, which resulted in a total of 7,744 suspected measles cases, with 747 suspected measles deaths recorded.
Zimbabwe is currently experiencing WASH-related disease outbreaks linked to poor WASH services, including cholera and typhoid. Furthermore, the 2023–2024 seasonal forecast is for normal to below-normal rainfall, with an El Niño cycle. The decrease in rainfall will lead to a decrease in the availability of water. Water scarcity can force people to travel even further to seek drinking water from unsafe sources, which leads to increased diarrhoeal disease outbreaks. Nationally, 17 per cent of households travel more than 1km to fetch water, and only 3.1 per cent of households treat their drinking water.
As evidenced by the ongoing cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe, water scarcity will only increase the continued spread of diarrhoeal diseases, which are a cause of morbidity and mortality especially among children under 5 years of age. As of 10 September 2023, Zimbabwe had recorded 3,948 suspected cholera cases, 879 confirmed cases and 98 deaths, translating to a case fatality rate of 2.48 per cent. While new infections are fueled by suboptimal WASH facilities, the high cholera case fatality rate is driven by an overburdened health system and insufficient skills saturation following three years of escalated attrition of skilled health workers.
Vulnerability of women and girls to gender-based violence is heightened in humanitarian crises, where violence and discrimination related to an emergency exacerbate pre-existing gender and social inequalities as well as traditional harmful social practices. Women and girls are disproportionally affected by the protection consequences of drought; for example, women and girls are forced to walk long distances to collect water and food in drought-affected areas, increasing their risk of experiencing sexual violence.
To cover the most acute needs of the multiple and converging hazards affecting people in Zimbabwe, UNICEF'shumanitarian strategy will focus on revitalizing cluster and sector coordination mechanisms, increasing response capacity, intensifying risk communication and community engagement and advancing evidence-based monitoring. Accountability to affected populations will be ensured through functioning platforms for participation of affected populations in the co-creation of community-led solutions and response strategies. To address seasonal acute food insecurity due to El Niño, UNICEF will support shock-responsive social protection through emergency social cash transfers to vulnerable households in six rural food-insecure districts.
UNICEF, as the Nutrition Cluster lead, will strengthen support to the Ministry of Health and Child Care to coordinate nutrition interventions in Zimbabwe and to plan (nationally and subnationally) to anticipate, mitigate and respond to emergencies. Prevention of all forms of malnutrition is a priority, implemented through a decentralized system using care groups, which are multisectoral delivery platforms at the community level, coordinated by district food and nutrition security committees.
UNICEF is a member of both the Health Cluster and the Emergency Preparedness and Response Technical Working Group, and in this role will continue supporting the Government of Zimbabwe through the Ministry of Health and Child Care in emergency preparedness and response nationally and subnationally, with stronger footprints at the community level.
As the Water and Sanitation Sector Working Group and Emergency Strategic Advisory Group co-chair, UNICEF will continue to strengthen coordination, preparedness, capacity and surveillance mechanisms at the national and subnational levels. This includes working closely with the Health Cluster and the Department of Civil Protection on intersectoral issues. UNICEF will also support the delivery of water and sanitation infrastructure and services in communities, health facilities and schools. For both preparedness and response, UNICEF will focus on safe water provision, hygiene promotion and provision of critical WASH supplies for the most vulnerable families in targeted high-risk areas.
In education and across all sectors, UNICEF will integrate emergency preparedness, risk-informed programming and resilience system strengthening approaches, to address the underlying causes of vulnerability to shocks and stresses, which bridge the humanitarian–development–peace nexus.
Through localization, UNICEF will recognize and strengthen partnerships with local actors, including women- and girl-focused organizations, to address people's needs and ensure that decisions are made close to the communities served. This will strengthen inclusion and acceptance of affected populations and UNICEF's accountability to them
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 Zimbabwe; the strategies that we are using to respond to these situations; and the donor support that is essential in this response.