Humanitarian Action for Children 2012


© UNICEF/NYHQ2011-1379/Page

Women fetch water at the edge of rising flood waters, during Pakistan’s second year of extreme flooding. Climate-related disasters, joined by political and economic shocks, are exposing already vulnerable children to repeated cycles of crisis.

UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children 2012 describes the daily situation of some of the world’s most vulnerable children and women in more than 25 countries and territories beset by emergencies and crisis. The chapters include summaries of the key humanitarian challenges and the results of the organization’s interventions in 2011, as well as plans and associated funding requests for the coming year. The document also lays out the vital support to country operations provided by the seven UNICEF regional offices.1 Also included are the unique contributions and funding needs of UNICEF’s global efforts to coordinate emergency assistance.

UNICEF’s humanitarian actions in 2011

UNICEF’s capacity to meet the urgent needs of children and their families was put to the test from the very first days of 2011, as violence stemming from the November 2010 elections in Côte d’Ivoire led to the displacement of nearly 1 million people. The country’s damaged infrastructure and blighted education facilities left many more children vulnerable to protection failures.2

The long-planned separation of South Sudan from the Republic of the Sudan left the new country to deal with conflict along the shared border, the displacement of 300,000 people and the return of nearly 350,000 South Sudanese.3

By the middle of 2011, extreme hunger and famine were ravaging the Horn of Africa, affecting over 13 million people and killing tens of thousands of children in Somalia.4 Another 750,000 children were at imminent risk of death as of October 2011.5

In Pakistan, massive flooding in Sindh and Balochistan Provinces beginning in August 2011 affected more than 5 million people,6 forcing many from their homes and creating a deep food security crisis in the affected areas.7

The wave of political turmoil and change that swept the Middle East and North Africa in 2011 caused widespread violence across Libya and Yemen, creating urgent humanitarian needs. In the first half of 2011, over more than 900,000 people fled Libya, primarily to Egypt and Tunisia.8

Throughout the world, millions of children are living amidst crises that persist for years. While some of these emergencies attract significant media and political attention, others never reach international awareness, and many become ‘silent emergencies’ in which deep humanitarian need, existing far from the public eye, is too easily and too quickly overlooked.9 Multiple and drawn-out crises have a cumulative effect on people who are already vulnerable, and over time, repeated and continuing shocks undermine children’s capacity to cope. Many of the countries included in this appeal report multiple risk factors – including economic shocks and food security concerns as well as natural hazards such as drought and flooding – that are compounded by security and protection concerns such as conflict, civil unrest, widespread sexual violence and unexploded ordnance. Without a reliable social safety net or the time and means to recover and rebuild, many children, families, and communities suffer through repeated cycles of crisis that deepen poverty, heighten social tensions and compromise well-being.10 In many protracted emergencies, crisis has become the norm – but habituation to such conditions makes them no less challenging for children and families. In its humanitarian action, UNICEF is committed to the fullest realization of the rights of all children’s in all emergency situations.

In 2011, UNICEF humanitarian response supported vaccination, deworming and vitamin A supplementation for over 36 million children. At least 1.2 million children suffering from severe acute malnutrition were treated, and more than 19 million women and children received targeted nutritional support. More than 16 million people gained access to facilities for adequate sanitation, hygiene or safe drinking water. Nearly 2.3 million households were provided with shelter or non-food items. Some 4 million children had access to emergency education, and over 920,000 were able to access child protection services.11 Working with multiple partners and serving as cluster lead or co-lead across sectors in most of the countries in the 2011 appeal, UNICEF continued to coordinate extensive humanitarian operations relating to water, sanitation and hygiene; nutrition; education; child protection; and gender-based violence.

The breadth and depth of nutritional and drought-related needs in the Horn of Africa compelled UNICEF to activate its highest level of emergency response, rapidly mobilizing the entire organization to funnel human and financial resources to meet needs in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. Between July and October 2011 alone, 108,000 children were treated for severe acute malnutrition.12 Assistance reached drought-affected communities and displaced persons in camps and neighbouring areas. At least 1.2 million children were vaccinated against measles, and 2.2 million people were provided with access to safe water. Nearly 50,000 children were able to access child-friendly spaces or other safe environments.13

In Pakistan, a second year of extreme flooding – in addition to ongoing conflict – necessitated a sustained, extensive and complex response. In flood-affected areas, sanitation facilities were improved for nearly 3 million people, and approximately 2 million people received safe drinking water. Polio vaccines were provided to more than 6 million children, and several million more received measles vaccines. Some 520,000 children were treated for acute malnutrition in flood- and conflict-affected areas.

To respond to food insecurity and high levels of undernutrition in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, UNICEF in 2011 extended the scope of the Community Management of Acute Malnutrition programme from 4 to 29 emergency counties. Some 3,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition were treated.  UNICEF also provided routine vaccination to more than 335,000 infants and 339,400 pregnant women.

In Yemen, civil unrest exacerbated the difficult circumstances of children and women already struggling to survive in conditions of deep poverty and political volatility. UNICEF supported community-based programmes to treat 36,000 children with moderate acute malnutrition and provided nutrition supplies to 37,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition, helped vaccinate some 54,000 children against measles, and provided vitamin A supplementation to more than 100,000 children. Community and school-based services helped foster the psychosocial well-being another 102,000 children.

Ongoing conflict in the east and northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, occurring in a context of minimal or non-existent social services and infrastructure, has had a profound impact on millions of people over many years. As of June 2011, more than 1.5 million people – half of them children – were displaced, slightly fewer than earlier in the year.14 Millions of children in conflict-affected areas were out of school, while attacks involving mass sexual violence were common in some provinces,15 and measles and cholera epidemics threatened the lives of many millions of children.16 In 2011 UNICEF provided access to adequate water, sanitation and hygiene facilities for 630,000 people. More than 95,000 children with severe acute malnutrition were treated with supplies provided by UNICEF, and 5.6 million children were vaccinated, dewormed or given vitamin A supplements. During the first three quarters of the year, more than 15,000 survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (half of them children) were provided with services.
In the midst of an ongoing cholera epidemic in Haiti, 325,000 people in marginalized areas gained access to safe drinking water, and 2.2 million benefitted from health and hygiene campaigns designed to prevent the spread of the water-borne disease. Long after the media spotlight on one of the major emergencies of 2010 had dimmed, many needs stemming from both the earthquake and the country’s backstory of poverty remained. UNICEF and numerous partner organizations continued to assist survivors of the quake and took further steps to increase the resilience of the most vulnerable Haitians. In 2011, UNICEF helped reunite 2,500 separated children with their families and established 160 temporary schools to serve nearly 86,000 children.

Alongside immediate humanitarian response, measures were also taken to enhance the resilience of partners and communities, in order to help them better manage uncertainty and risk – in accordance with Humanitarian Action for Children 2011: Building resilience. The Children’s Charter on Disaster Risk Reduction, promoted by UNICEF and non-governmental organizations, was advanced in more than 20 countries. In six regions, education programmes were used to promote risk reduction measures. In some countries – for example South Sudan and Sri Lanka – recovery programming included peace-building initiatives. In the Horn of Africa, a disaster risk reduction programming approach is the backbone of an initiative to enhance longer-term resilience to mitigate the effects of future shocks. Such an approach includes cross-sector planning, risk assessment, partnership, capacity development and an emphasis on linking national to local planning.

The many positive results achieved by UNICEF in emergency settings in 2011 reflect its principled stewardship of funding received for 2011 – even though Humanitarian Action for Children 2011 was funded at only 48 per cent as of 31 October 2011. Many responses remained underfunded, leaving needs unmet. In the Philippines, for example, only 18 per cent of requirements were funded, so that only 22,000 children of a planned 75,000 were able to receive new school supplies to replace those lost or damaged in the floods. In South Sudan, with 36 per cent funding, 370,000 people of a planned 500,000 were provided with access to safe water; given the resources actually received, many water schemes could not be constructed or rehabilitated.17 UNICEF needs adequate funding in order to fulfil its commitments towards children.

Overall funding trends in 2011

In 2011, UNICEF’s funding requirements for humanitarian action totalled US$1.6 billion. This included the US$1.5 billion presented in the 38 country, regional and global chapters outlined in Humanitarian Action for Children 2011, in addition to six flash appeals and four other appeals.18

As of 31 October 2011, UNICEF had received US$854.7 million for all its humanitarian activities.19 This amount reflects a 3 per cent increase over the 2010 humanitarian funding level of US$830.9 million (as of 31 October 2010). More than US$372 million (44 per cent) of the 2011 humanitarian funding was contributed to the Horn of Africa response, with the remaining US$482.6 million (56 per cent) directed towards UNICEF’s other emergency operations.

The Humanitarian Action for Children 2011 had an initial budget of US$1.4 billion that was revised mid-year to US$1.5 billion. The revised request was 48 per cent funded as of 31 October 2011 (US$744.4 million received), compared to 39 per cent during the same period in 2010. The higher percentage of funding in 2011 can be attributed largely to the funding received for the Horn of Africa.

As shown in the chart below, only Yemen and the West and Central Africa Regional Office received full funding in 2011. Most countries experienced funding shortfalls. UNICEF country offices in the Congo, Iraq, Madagascar, Tajikistan and Uganda received less than 10 per cent of their humanitarian funding requirements.

UNICEF would like to acknowledge the contributions of its public and private sector donors in supporting the children and vulnerable populations affected by humanitarian crises throughout the world.  The largest proportion of humanitarian funding was received from government donors (49 per cent) while government funding via Multi-Donor Trust Funds (MTDFs) such as the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), Common Humanitarian Funds (CHFs) and Emergency Response Funds (ERFs) provided 18 per cent of the total humanitarian contributions. UNICEF’s national committee partners provided 18.6 per cent of the funding, while inter-governmental organisations such as the European Commission provided 13.6 per cent of the funding. Local fundraising through UNICEF field offices accounted for the remaining 0.7 per cent of the total funding received.20

As of the end of October 2011, the European Commission had emerged as the largest source of humanitarian funding, with a total contribution of US$ 115.8 million. The government of the United States was the second largest funding source, providing US$ 98.2 million of humanitarian funding. The government of Japan provided US$ 97.4 million and was the third largest source of humanitarian funding. As of the end of October the top 10 donors of humanitarian funding (shown in the chart below) accounted for approximately 74 per cent of the contributions received by UNICEF for its emergency operations.

2011 Thematic humanitarian funds

In order to provide predictable and timely programmatic and operational response in humanitarian action, UNICEF needs flexible resources. However, only 17.8 per cent of donor contributions for humanitarian action, or US$152 million of the US$854.7 million received by the end of October, was provided in the form of thematic humanitarian funding.

Thematic humanitarian funding allows UNICEF to respond more effectively to humanitarian crises. This is particularly crucial for large-scale emergencies that require sustained funding over a long duration – such as the Horn of Africa response – as well as for consistently underfunded, ‘silent’ emergencies. Thematic funds provide the flexibility needed for integrated early recovery approaches, and they further help UNICEF meet its commitments to humanitarian reform, in particular by upholding its leadership responsibilities under the cluster approach.

Thematic humanitarian funding for 2011 is lower in dollar terms compared to 2010, when thematic funds totalled US$278.5 million; however, more than 90 per cent of the 2010 thematic funds were provided for response to the earthquake in Haiti and the floods in Pakistan, leaving only US$ 27.6 million for the remaining countries and regions. In 2011, two thirds (US$100.5 million) of the thematic humanitarian funds received were for the Horn of Africa response, while the remaining US$51.5 million was provided for other emergencies.

Given the relatively high levels of thematic contributions in response to the earthquake in Haiti and the floods in Pakistan in 2010, as well as to the current Horn of Africa crisis, it is evident that donors recognize the benefits of providing flexible funding for extremely large-scale emergencies. UNICEF would like to encourage donors to consider contributing thematic humanitarian funds to all emergencies to provide the flexibility that is so crucial to effective humanitarian action.

In 2011, the top thematic donor was the German Committee for UNICEF, followed by the United States Fund for UNICEF and the French Committee for UNICEF. UNICEF would like to acknowledge all donors who provide thematic funding – and particularly its national committee partners, who have provided 86 per cent of the thematic funding received for 2011.

UNICEF continues to urge its donors to provide flexible humanitarian funding for all countries, particularly at the global level. Next to regular resources, global thematic humanitarian funding is UNICEF’s preferred funding modality. The amount received as global thematic humanitarian funding by the end of October (US$2.4 million) only represents 2 per cent of the total thematic humanitarian funds received in 2011. Global thematic humanitarian funds allow the organization to prioritize and respond strategically to the needs of children worldwide. Using these funds, UNICEF can invest efficiently in new initiatives; meet its commitments to humanitarian reform, particularly its cluster leadership responsibilities; prioritize underfunded crises; and build capacity. These actions enable UNICEF to shift programmatic focus from inputs and activities to outcomes and sustainable results for children.

UNICEF’s planned humanitarian action in 2012 and associated funding needs

In 2012, UNICEF expects to assist approximately 97 million persons in the countries and territories outlined in Humanitarian Action for Children 2012.21 To carry out its planned response, the organization will need US$1.28 billion. Compared to the 2011 appeal, launched in February 2011, this requirement has decreased by 9 per cent, and the number of country-specific appeals has been reduced from 32 to 25.22 Full funding for 2012 is needed in order to meet the needs of vulnerable children and women and to fulfil their right to health, survival and development.

Based on current programme plans for all the countries included in this appeal, 30 per cent of the 2012 request is needed for nutrition support: Every country included in this appeal requires some type of emergency nutrition support for children. (See Figure 1.5.) Approximately 20 per cent of the total request is earmarked for emergency water, sanitation and hygiene-related interventions; 13 per cent for emergency health interventions; and 14 per cent for education.23 Child protection accounts for 8 per cent of the 2012 budget; 6 per cent goes towards shelter, non-food items and cash transfer programmes, with an additional 6 per cent towards emergency preparedness and disaster risk reduction. Cluster coordination costs amount to 3 per cent of the global budget, while 1 per cent is dedicated to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.24

Although the distribution of funding requirements across sectors has been fairly constant over the past five years, in 2012 the funding requirement for nutrition has been increased by 47 per cent, now representing 30 per cent of total requirements, compared to 19 per cent in 2011. This can largely be attributed to UNICEF’s response to the high rates of severe malnutrition in countries affected by severe and consecutive droughts in the Horn of Africa, the Sahel belt and South Asia.

The organization will maintain its extensive effort in the Horn of Africa, where undernutrition continues to threaten hundreds of thousands of children. Nearly one quarter of required funds in 2012 are dedicated to Somalia, reflecting the dire situation in that country. Approximately 33 per cent of all requested funds are for four countries experiencing the combined effects of drought, high food prices and population movements in the Horn of Africa: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia; 48 per cent of funds for these four countries go towards nutrition support.25 The next largest amount is required for humanitarian assistance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, accounting for 11 per cent of the total request, followed by the Republic of the Sudan and Pakistan, which require 8 and 7 per cent, respectively.

By region, the greatest funding increases (and the highest funding totals) in 2012 are for Eastern and Southern Africa – owing to the Horn of Africa crisis – with West and Central Africa also seeing an increased funding requirement, mainly because of higher requirements for Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Liberia. Funding requests in South Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean have decreased, primarily because funding needs for Pakistan and Haiti are lower.

UNICEF’s ability to undertake humanitarian assistance depends entirely on funding from donors. UNICEF gratefully acknowledges donors’ strong response during 2011 and invites supporters to maintain or increase their commitments to meeting the humanitarian needs of children and women in emergencies during 2012.

1 The regional offices provide technical support and also manage funding for residual, seasonal or contained humanitarian needs in 22 countries. 
2 United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, ‘Emergency Humanitarian Action Plan: Côte d’Ivoire and neighbouring countries – Revision, 08 April 2011’, OCHA, New York and Geneva, 8 April 2011, pp. 1–2,, accessed 5 December 2011.
3 United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, ‘Weekly Humanitarian Bulletin: 21–27 October 2011’, OCHA Sudan, 2011, p. 3.
4 United Nations Children’s Fund, ‘UNICEF and partners race to prevent a second wave of death in the Horn of Africa’, Press release, UNICEF, Nairobi and Geneva, 28 October 2011,, accessed 5 December 2011.
5 United Nations Children’s Fund Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office, Response to the Horn of Africa Emergency: A crisis affecting life, livelihoods and ways of life – Regional three-month progress report, UNICEF, October 2011, p. 4,, accessed 6 December 2011.
6 United Nations, ‘Multi-sector Needs Assessment 2011-Pakistan’, presentation, UN, 30 November 2011, p. 10,, accessed 12 December 2011.
7 Ibid., p. 4.
8 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Global Appeal 2012–2013, UNHCR, Geneva, 1 December 2011, p. 132,, accessed 11 December 2011.
9 United Nations Children’s Fund, Global Investment Case on Silent Emergencies, UNICEF, Geneva, 30 June 2011, p. 2.
10 Ibid.
11 The examples highlighted in this report are based on information provided by UNICEF country and regional offices and are not exhaustive.
12 Response to the Horn of Africa Emergency, p. 5.
13 Ibid.
14 United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, ‘Mouvements de populations Avril-Juin 2011’, OCHA, Kinshasa, July 2011, p. 1.
15 Schmitt, Céline, ‘Des victimes congolaises de la violence sexuelle appellent la communauté internationale à l’aide’, Articles d’actualité, 16 March 2011,'actualite%2016%20mars%202011%20-%20Des%20victimes%20congolaises%20de%20la%20violenc, accessed 6 December 2011; van der Vaart, Marieke, ‘U.S. Condemns Congo Sexual Violence after Soldiers Rape 248’, Washington Times, 6 July 2011,, accessed 6 December 2011; Médicins Sans Frontières, ‘Mass Rape Expands Range and Depth of Violence against Villagers in DRC’, 4 July 2011,, accessed 6 December 2011. 
16 United Nations Children’s Fund, World Health Organization, and Ministry of Public Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, ‘Déclaration de l’épidemie de rougeole en RDC par le Ministre de la Santé Publique’, Press release, Kinshasa, 2 April 2011,, accessed 6 December 2011; World Health Organization, ‘Situation de l’épidemie de cholera le long du fleuve Congo, en République Démocratique du Congo (RDC), au 30 aôut 2011’, WHO, Kinshasa, 30 August 2011,, accessed 6 December 2011.
17 The examples highlighted in this report are based on information provided by UNICEF country and regional offices and are not exhaustive.
18 Other appeals include Immediate Needs Documents and Central Emergency Response Fund funding received for countries without inter-agency appeals. The six flash appeals were for El Salvador, Libya, Namibia, Nicaragua, Pakistan (floods) and Sri Lanka.
19 All funding data reported is on an interim basis as of 31 October 2011.

20 All funding data is indicative, the full donor compendium will be issued in March 2012, providing the full donor ranking for 2011. 
21 Based on information provided by UNICEF country offices in the texts included in this document.  This figure includes 50 million children benefitting from provision of vaccines. This does not include additional beneficiaries assisted through regional offices.
22 Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, the Congo, Guatemala, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nepal, Tajikistan and Uganda had separate chapters in Humanitarian Action for Children 2011. In 2012, any remaining funds needed to allow these countries to respond to smaller-scale emergencies and to support capacity building and early recovery have been included in the 2012 regional appeals. A separate chapter for Liberia was included at mid-year in 2011. This year’s Humanitarian Action for Children includes separate chapters for the Sudan and South Sudan. 
23 ‘HAC 2012 Funding Requirements 12 December’ based on information received from UNICEF country offices. Due to rounding, figures may not add up to 100 per cent. 
24 Prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS are mainstreamed into other programme sectors in some of the countries. 
25 Based on an analysis of funding requests, by country and sector, for countries included in Humanitarian Action for Children 2012.