Global Annual Results Report 2020: Humanitarian Action
Progress, results achieved and lessons from 2020 in UNICEF humanitarian action
The humanitarian landscape in 2020
Humanitarian needs grew exponentially in 2020. By the end of the year, 235 million people – 1 in 33 people worldwide were in need of humanitarian assistance and protection. That represents a significant increase from the 1 in 45 people in need when the year began, which was already the highest figure in decades.
During the year, the COVID-19 pandemic – combined with prolonged and violent conflict, large-scale population displacement, the global hunger crisis and climate-related disasters – drove humanitarian needs to their highest level yet.
Deafening silence and uncertainty in Afghanistan
As parts of the country have locked down to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the situation has become even more dire for internally displaced children. UNICEF and partners are on the ground working to ease the dire conditions faced by internally displaced families, helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and reducing the devastation to these already fragile communities.
UNICEF humanitarian action in 2020
In 2020, UNICEF and its implementing partners responded to 455 new and ongoing humanitarian situations in 152 countries and territories, compared with 281 humanitarian situations in 96 countries and territories in 2019. The significant increase in the number of humanitarian situations and countries can be attributed to the UNICEF humanitarian response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which represents the largest humanitarian response – and the first global emergency response – in the history of the organization.
Type and scale of humanitarian response in 2020
Delivering humanitarian results for children
These are some of the key humanitarian results achieved against targets for children by UNICEF and partners in 2020. In some contexts, achievements were constrained by limited resources, including across sectors; inadequate humanitarian access; insecurity; and challenging operating environments.
In the Ecuadorian Amazon, remote doesn’t mean cut off
Even without internet access or cell phones, students in remote areas of Ecuador are still learning during COVID-19-related school closures. UNICEF and implementing partner Desarrollo y Autogestión are assisting around 1,200 children considered to be at risk of falling behind their peers due to the COVID-19 school closures.
Key results from humanitarian responses
Over 506,000 children and pregnant and lactating women received essential health services and health education, including through mobile outreach teams (exceeding the target).
17.2 million students (50 per cent girls) continued their educations during the pandemic.
Central Sahel crisis (Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger)
More than 542,000 people affected by population movements, disease outbreaks or natural disasters across the Central Sahel accessed safe water.
Ebola outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Since 2018, 39.3 million at-risk people reached through community engagement, advocacy, interpersonal communications, public animations, radio, door-to-door outreach, church meetings, schools and other approaches (exceeding the target).
More than 9.2 million children and parents reached through national television programmes on positive parenting and mental health.
Migration flows in Latin America
More than 167,000 people on the move from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, including over 21,000 children, received messages on life-saving skills, protective practices and accessing services (exceeding the target).
Syrian Arab Republic
Nearly 11,000 girls and boys with severe disabilities (40 per cent girls) received regular cash transfers and case management across seven governorates (93 per cent of the target).
8,000 young people participated in eight U-Report opinion polls, which generated data used to improve COVID-19 response measures.
A total of 319 emergency (surge) deployments were reported and completed in 2020, down from 600 in 2019. These deployments totalled nearly 34,000 days, with an average mission length of 122 days.
Top 3 crises supported through emergency deployments
In 2020, UNICEF collaborated with 1,852 civil society partners (1,294 local and 558 international non-governmental organizations). UNICEF also partnered with national government responders, transferring nearly US$244 million of humanitarian funding. Overall, 28 per cent of humanitarian funding went directly to local and national civil society and government responders.
Supplying the fight against COVID-19
Currently affecting more than 200 countries and territories, the COVID-19 virus has upended the lives of children and their families everywhere, placing a huge strain on often already overburdened health and education systems. UNICEF is working with governments, partners and businesses to provide access to life-saving supplies including personal protective equipment for front line health workers to protect children and families.
The year’s results were made possible by the generous contributions of resource partners, including governments, National Committees and corporate partners. The UNICEF resource mobilization strategy for humanitarian action continued to put children at the centre of political and policy agendas to generate adequate and quality financial resources for better and more efficient results on the ground.
Global humanitarian thematic funding
UNICEF global humanitarian thematic funds – critical multi-year flexible funding – allowed the organization to meet critical needs. These funds helped UNICEF respond to overlapping crises in the Sahel, where vulnerable people urgently needed multisectoral support throughout the year; scale up its response to displacement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and take life-saving preparedness actions in Kenya.
In 2020, UNICEF allocated US$34.4 million of programmable global humanitarian thematic funding. Of this, 83 per cent went to humanitarian action in countries and regions; and 17 per cent went to other global coordination and technical support.
UNICEF is dedicated to improving its humanitarian action, in accordance with its Strategic Plan, to meet the challenges described above and strengthen its ability to deliver results for crisis-affected children.
A key milestone in 2020 was the release of the revised Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action, the organization’s core policy for humanitarian action and a vital framework that guides and shapes its humanitarian response in complex and life-threatening environments. In 2021, UNICEF will continue rolling out the CCCs globally.
In 2020, UNICEF also completed a humanitarian review that examined the organization’s humanitarian operations in the context of the global challenges of the 21st century. The recommendations of this humanitarian review will strengthen the organization’s capacity to deliver principled, timely, quality and child-centred humanitarian response and advocacy.
While the organization’s COVID-19 strategy is anchored in humanitarian action and guided by the CCCs, it goes well beyond addressing immediate humanitarian needs. UNICEF will continue to prioritize interventions that strengthen systems and build technical capacities at the national and subnational levels, in partnership with governments, civil society partners and other United Nations agencies.
In all its programmes, UNICEF will continue to promote a model for recovery that is resilient and climate-sensitive; that reduces vulnerability and does not exacerbate inequality; and that prioritizes platforms that promote engagement opportunities and agency for children and adolescents.
This report highlights the achievements made possible by the generous contributions of softly earmarked thematic funding received from various partners. UNICEF would like to express it's sincere appreciation for these contributions.
In 2020, UNICEF and partners responded to 455 new and ongoing humanitarian situations in 152 countries. More than half of all UNICEF expenses in 2020 supported humanitarian action.
Globally, UNICEF and partners reached millions of children with lifesaving, gender-sensitive and disability-inclusive interventions in the areas of health, nutrition, education, child protection, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and social protection during the year.
Since the UNICEF Level 3 response to the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020, UNICEF has reached 261 million children with vital health, nutrition, education, child protection, gender-based violence and social protection services. In addition, UNICEF and partners reached 3 billion people, including 810 million children, with life-saving risk communication and community engagement information and activities.
This report highlights the results achieved and challenges faced during 2020, as well as UNICEF’s work plan for humanitarian action in 2021.