European Union provides fresh funding to support COVID-19 vaccination in sub-Saharan Africa

The programme will reach more than 189 million people

07 December 2021

DAKAR/NAIROBI, 8 December 2021 - UNICEF has received a new grant from the European Union’s Humanitarian Aid to help roll out COVID-19 vaccination in 12 countries in Eastern, Southern, West and Central Africa. The 18-month joint programme will help ensure that as vaccines arrive, countries are supported and vaccines reach the whole population, including the most vulnerable. Support will be provided through, inter alia, training for health workers, shoring up logistics and building confidence in vaccine take up.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been putting immense pressure on already-overburdened health systems in Eastern, Southern, West and Central Africa, despite concerted efforts by governments, supported by UNICEF and other partners. The impact on communities and children has been devastating. Children have been hit especially hard, with schools closed for months, millions forced into child labour or early marriage, and millions of other children thrown into extreme poverty.

Vaccination is a key strategy in the global COVID-19 response. However, just 7 per cent of the African population had been fully vaccinated as of December 6 2021.

“Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, the EU, its Member States and European financial institutions have come together as Team Europe, to provide support against the pandemic around the world. In addition to being a leading donor to the COVAX facility, the EU is providing a total of €100 million in humanitarian assistance to support the rollout of vaccination campaigns in Africa, in cooperation with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC),” said Paraskevi Michou, Director General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection in the European Commission. “This will help ensure equitable access to vaccines for vulnerable people, including in conflict-affected or hard-to-access areas. It is also an indication of the strong cooperation between the European Commission, the Africa CDC, UN agencies and humanitarian partners on the ground, in our joint efforts to defeat the pandemic.”

The 12 countries with critical humanitarian needs and fragile health systems benefiting from this new EU humanitarian funding to rollout their vaccination campaigns are: Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Nigeria, South Sudan, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on communities and children in Africa, taking lives, affecting livelihoods and the ability of Governments to provide essential services to children”, said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “UNICEF welcomes the EU’s support to ensure that populations in the 12 countries, including parents and priority groups such as health workers, teachers and social workers can be vaccinated against COVID-19. Protecting them is key to restore and improve services to children.”

This new EU humanitarian funding will allow UNICEF to:

  • enhance coordination and partnership with Governments, Africa CDC, WHO AFRO and partners in planning and monitoring of COVID-19 vaccine roll-out;
  • support delivery of vaccines to priority groups through increased health force capacity;
  • increase logistics, cold chain systems and vaccine management;
  • strengthen community engagement for vaccine acceptance and promote demand;
  • and provide timely and quality technical support and oversight.

“As COVID-19 vaccines become more available in Africa, it is critical to make sure that countries have the necessary tools and resources to turn vaccines into vaccinations by accelerating roll outs while prioritizing the most vulnerable target populations”, said Mohamed Fall, UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa. “ECHO’s support to UNICEF will help make this a reality”.

Media contacts

Mathias Eick
Regional Information Officer
EU Humanitarian Aid
Tel: +254 722792604
Nadia Samie-Jacobs
Communication Officer
UNICEF Africa Services Unit
Tel: +27 72 777 9399

About EU Humanitarian Aid

The European Union and its Member States are the world's leading donor of humanitarian aid. Relief assistance is an expression of European solidarity with people in need all around the world. It aims to save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and safeguard the integrity and human dignity of populations affected by natural disasters and man-made crises.

Through its Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department, the European Union helps millions of victims of conflict and disasters every year. With headquarters in Brussels and a global network of field offices, the EU provides assistance to the most vulnerable people on the basis of humanitarian needs.


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

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