UNICEF Annual Report 2021

Protecting child rights in a time of crises

7-year-old students outside a classroom in Myanmar


In 2021, the second full year of the COVID-19 pandemic, UNICEF worked tirelessly together with partners to protect children’s rights in the face of the mounting impact of COVID-19 and other threats including armed conflict and climate change.

UNICEF continued to alleviate the impacts of these crises on children while strengthening national systems to reach the most marginalized, excluded children and communities and to enhance preparedness and resilience in the face of future shocks. This work was possible thanks to strong public, private and civil society partnerships, including across the United Nations system, and voluntary funding. For more details, see Annual Report 2021 Partnerships Supplement  

This report outline's UNICEF's key achievements for children and young people in 2021, including: 

  • In its role as procurement coordinator for the COVAX Facility, UNICEF led the procurement and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines. In 2021, COVAX delivered 958 million doses (including donated doses) to 144 countries.
  • Providing services to prevent stunting and other forms of malnutrition, reaching nearly 336 million children, 38 per cent more than in 2020.
  • Reaching 154 million children with life-saving screening for severe wasting through simplified, community-level approaches despite pandemic-related service disruptions and treating nearly 5.5 million children.
  • Reaching 64 per cent of women with at least four antenatal care visits in the 50 focus countries of the Every Newborn Action Plan and reaching 65 per cent of women with postnatal care
  • Helping 48.6 million out-of-school children access education, including 6.4 million children on the move and 31.7 million in humanitarian settings.
  • Providing prevention and care interventions through joint programming with UNFPA to 7.6 million adolescent girls at risk of child marriage, up from 2.1 million in 2017
  • Expanding access to safe water and basic sanitation for 69.9 million people and basic sanitation for 59.6 million people from 2018-2021, reaching ambitious targets.
  • Advocating for the release of children in detention, leading to a major policy breakthrough. Since the beginning of the pandemic, over 45,000 children across 84 countries have been released from detention.
  • Leading positive policy change and action in 92 per cent of intended countries through global advocacy on vaccines, education, mental health, water, climate, and nutrition and child protection in humanitarian situations.
  • Responding to 483 new and ongoing humanitarian crises in 153 countries.
  • Procuring $7.2 billion in supplies and services from nearly 11,150 suppliers.
Annual Report 2021 cover
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