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 2023, an estimated 3 million people, including 2 million children, are projected to be in urgent need of humanitarian assistance in Zimbabwe due to the impact of food and nutrition crises induced by such natural hazards as drought, floods and disease outbreaks. A total of 1.5 million people (972,000 females and 528,000 males), including 1.1 million children (572,000 girls and 528,000 boys), will need life-saving health, HIV and nutrition services.
- UNICEF will intensify support for multisectoral life-saving services and for efforts to contain the measles outbreak. Social and behavioural change, accountability to affected populations, gender equality, gender-based violence risk mitigation and prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse will be integrated across the interventions.
- UNICEF requires US$47.8 million to meet humanitarian needs in 2023, in (among other sectors) health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and social protection. UNICEF is aiming to dedicate 15 per cent of the total appeal to gender equality.
Key planned results for 2023
1.6 million children and women accessing primary health care
300,000 primary caregivers receiving infant and young child feeding counselling
314,100 children accessing formal or non-formal education, including early learning
495,000 people accessing a sufficient quantity and quality of water
Funding requirements for 2023
Country needs and strategy
The humanitarian context of Zimbabwe is fragile. People chronically grapple with natural hazards (including floods and drought) that are exacerbated by climate change and economic instability. Disease outbreaks, including measles and diarrhoea, affect the southern parts of the country and the risk of cholera remains high. The disruption of vaccination activities by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has increased the risk of disease outbreaks. In addition, Malawi and Mozambique have reported confirmed polio cases, posing the risk of importation to Zimbabwe, and the region, due to high cross-border movement.
Zimbabwe has recorded an increased prevalence of wasting at 7.2 per cent, 9 with global wasting at the national level soaring above the 5 per cent threshold into the alert phase for the first time since 2006, and almost doubling compared with a 2021 vulnerability assessment. Cereal insecurity is at 38 per cent this year compared with 27 per cent in 2021 and the situation is expected to deteriorate from now until the peak of the hunger gap (January-March), when up to 3.8 million people are projected to become food insecure. Average household income has declined from US$75 per month in 2021 to US$57 per month in 2022. As a result, about 22 per cent of households are using either stress, crisis or emergency livelihoods coping strategies, compared with 17 per cent in 2021.
An estimated 16 per cent of households travel more than 1 kilometre to fetch water from the nearest main water source, with 29 per cent traveling more than 500 metres, which is still too far according to the Sphere standard. The erosion of the capacity of families to procure critical hygiene items has resulted in households and communities compromising safe sanitation and hygiene practices, thereby increasing the risk of WASH-related disease outbreaks. Women and girls have to walk long distances to the nearest water point, making them more vulnerable to protection risks, including rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence.
The increased vulnerability triggered by climatic shocks has seriously compromised access to education, with 51.8 per cent of children in rural areas reportedly turned away from school for non-payment of school fees during the first term of 2022. Out-of-school children are at high risk of child protection violations, including child marriage, teenage pregnancy and sexual and gender-based violence. The heightened vulnerability to shocks has also increased the risk of families resorting to such negative coping strategies as pulling children (particularly girls) out of school, along with child marriage and child labour.
To adequately respond to the hazards affecting Zimbabwe, UNICEF's humanitarian strategy aims to strengthen cluster and sector coordination mechanisms; engage and partner with local civil society organizations to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance; and strengthen community-based response mechanisms, while also strengthening mechanisms for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse, accountability to affected populations and social and behavioural change.
UNICEF will strengthen the Nutrition Cluster and sectoral coordination and support the Ministry of Health and Child Care to deliver life-saving nutrition services through the care-group approach. Support will target pregnant women and mothers of children under age 2. The goal is to improve infant and young child feeding practices to prevent acute malnutrition, while also identifying and referring children with acute malnutrition for early treatment. UNICEF will also ensure linkages with agricultural support interventions to improve access to nutritious foods strengthening the humanitarian-development nexus.
UNICEF will support the Ministry of Health and Child Care in emergency preparedness and response, at both the national and subnational levels, as well as at the community level. Key activities will include mapping zero-dose children (those who have not received any routine vaccine), supporting integrated outreach for primary care, including vaccination for vaccine-preventable diseases; scale-up of case management and infection prevention and control during outbreaks; event and community-based surveillance; and coordination. UNICEF will also work to promote HIV prevention, testing and treatment as cross-cutting interventions integrated with programming for gender-based violence (including sexual assault) and adolescent reproductive health services.
As WASH Sector Working Group co-chair, UNICEF will continue strengthening coordination, preparedness and surveillance mechanisms at national and subnational levels, including through the country's Emergency Strategic Advisory Group, and through linking with the Health Cluster on intersectoral issues. UNICEF will also support the delivery of life-saving water and sanitation services in the affected communities, health facilities and schools.
UNICEF will support the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and the Education Cluster and sector through the ‘Whole of School Approach’, which strengthens school communities to prepare for, adapt to and recover from various hazards. This helps to ensure resilient and uninterrupted education before, during and after disasters, strengthening the humanitarian-development nexus. This includes, among other things, the implementation of disaster risk management and resilience plans at the school level. UNICEF will also target out-of-school children with tailored educational support to facilitate their return to school. In child protection, UNICEF will strengthen community-based child protection structures and the social service workforce.
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.