A year of pandemic, a year of action in Peru
Report on UNICEF’s COVID-19 response
“It’s been a tough year. The most difficult thing was that my mother has to work at a health centre. We keenly followed the arrival of the vaccines. One day my mother came home happy because she had been vaccinated. Now we feel more at ease because she is more protected, but we keep taking care of ourselves.”
Children are often the forgotten victims of emergencies and the COVID-19 crisis has been no exception. Since they have not been the ones most in need of ICU beds or oxygen cylinders, little attention has been paid to their material and emotional needs. However, even when universal vaccination is achieved, the present and future of children are already seriously compromised in Peru. Child poverty has increased due to the pandemic and thousands of children have dropped out of school, been orphaned, had their mental health affected or are victims of family violence.
UNICEF has responded to the COVID-19 emergency considering the needs of children and supporting the Government of Peru in its response efforts.
We invite you to read about what has been a year of pandemic, a year of UNICEF’s action in Peru.
Health in our hands
“I feel safer because they provide good care here [at the health centre], they teach us good things. I see that my son is already playing and is very happy.”
-Lloyli, Yadriel’s mother, Loreto
Through the pandemic, we have learned to take care of ourselves by washing our hands, keeping our distance and wearing a mask. But how to do it when you don´t always have water at home or if when you need medical care it isn’t easy to get to a health centre? In addition to mitigating this situation, a safe reactivation of primary health care services, disrupted by the pandemic, was essential to prevent women from missing pregnancy check-ups and children falling behind on routine vaccines.
With the Regional Health Directorate of Loreto, UNICEF promoted the reactivation of health services for children and pregnant women. UNICEF applied a checklist to ensure that conditions were in place to reactivate services in health centres, trained authorities and service providers and facilitated home visits to at risk pregnant women and children.
UNICEF also delivered protection and care kits to vulnerable pregnant women and newborns, as well as kits to promote play and communication.
Learning in a pandemic
“Things have changed this year. We couldn't talk to our teachers and I felt sad and worried that we couldn´t see each other or work together.”
-Richard, 15 years old, Ucayali
The suspension of face-to-face classes has had devastating consequences for the learning and well-being of children. This situation also risks that the most vulnerable and those who cannot access distance learning may never return to the classroom or will be forced to work. Preliminary estimates by the Ministry of Education indicate that around 705,000 students have interrupted or are at risk of interrupting their schooling.
UNICEF supported the Ministry of Education in the design and implementation of the Aprendo en Casa (I learn at home) programme, developing teaching content for radio and tablets for students in rural and dispersed communities, with a focus on inclusive and intercultural education.
In some indigenous communities with no Internet or television signal, UNICEF installed loudspeakers to broadcast remote classes to help ensure that children in the Peruvian Amazon have access to distance education.
Violence, the other pandemic
The confinement imposed during the pandemic highlighted the high rate of domestic violence that has children among its main victims. For many, isolation to keep safe from COVID-19 resulted in a greater exposure to the other pandemic: violence.
In a year in which family was for many the main support to get through the COVID-19 crisis, the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations and UNICEF promoted the right of children to live in a family and have the emotional and material protection of their parents even if they are separated.
UNICEF helped support the alternative care model through the delivery of 776 food baskets to foster families and the production of videos on the right to live in a family, visitation and child support.
Inequality, a reality unmasked
“When the coronavirus hit here, I didn’t think the world would come to a halt so suddenly. I was surprised because we had so many plans for this year. In December , we said, ‘this is our year’ and now, well, we have to live with this.”
-Daniela, Venezuelan migrant, 15 years old, Lima
COVID-19 is the worst economic and health crisis that Peru has faced in recent years and it has revealed the true levels of poverty and inequality that people experience. The measures implemented to respond to the health crisis resulted in a drop in economic growth (-11.1 per cent of GDP in 2020, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Informatics), with 1.5 million jobs lost and a 10.5 per cent reduction in household income, according to International Labour Organization estimates.
According to UNICEF estimates, in Peru a total of 1.2 million children fell into poverty in 2020.
Venezuelan migrants living in Peru were one of the populations most affected by the pandemic. To protect the rights of migrant children, UNICEF Peru implemented, for the first time, a cash transfer programme for Venezuelan migrant families. The payments were complemented with information on education, protection and violence services and COVID-19 prevention messages, as well as follow-up with participating families.
Communication that cares, communication that uplifts
“Our opinions are important, and we must share them so that authorities take them into account and address them.”
-Alicia, 17 years old, Huancavelica
With the national quarantine imposed due to the pandemic, families had to learn to live together at home. UNICEF worked with partners to develop guides for families in the first months of the health emergency. UNICEF also collaborated with the media and the private and public sectors throughout the year on communication campaigns and promotion of care against COVID-19.
Being an adolescent was never easy. Much less so now during a pandemic. In this video, adolescents from different regions of Peru invite us to stand up and raise our hand to ensure development opportunities that allow them to reimagine and build a better Peru.
The post COVID-19 plan
Humanity shares one wish: for COVID-19 to cease to be a deadly threat. As we await that moment, let us ensure younger generations have a better world than the one that existed when the pandemic arrived to take millions of lives and leave those already behind even more behind.
-Ana de Mendoza, UNICEF Representative in Peru
The post-COVID-19 plan must place at the centre of its priorities the invisible victims of the pandemic: children whom the coronavirus separated from classrooms and their friends; left orphaned; revealed the harshness of social differences when connecting to a class was impossible because they lacked a cell phone or electricity at home; and exposed more to family violence.
Thank you for joining us
International cooperation, the private sector and civil society partners joined us in solidarity to help in the COVID-19 response. Thanks to all of them for their continued support for the benefit of children living in Peru.
We invite you to read the full list of partners in the report.