South Africa Humanitarian Situation Report - 31 December 2022

The situation and needs of children, as well as information on UNICEF’s response, and funding requirements.

girls smiling broadly, holding up books in their mother tongue that they are reading
UNICEF/UN0752442/Sheldon Moulton


South Africa has recorded 4 million COVID-19 cases and 102,000 deaths since the onset of the pandemic. In late May, the South African Government reported that the country had reached 50 per cent COVID-19 vaccination coverage of the adult population. Despite significant efforts, the COVID-19 vaccination rate appears to have plateaued, while the National Department of Health (NDoH) announced the end of remaining COVID-19 restrictions in late June.

The health and wellbeing of children remains at risk as the pandemic has been unfolding alongside a deepening energy crisis and now the fall out of the war in Ukraine, including food security issues and rising food prices. Half of households struggle to meet basic food needs and are vulnerable to malnutrition and negative long-term health and educational effects. A measles outbreak was declared in late 2022, as immunization rates in some areas failed to reach the 95 per cent coverage needed to stop community
transmission, in part as a result of reduced vaccination rates due to COVID-19.

Education disruptions as a result of COVID-19 Pandemic have resulted in learners being around 75 per cent of a school year behind where they would otherwise have been. The mental wellbeing of young people has been seriously impacted by the pandemic amid an overriding sense of a future with fewer opportunities and hope. Based on 114.857 U-reporters 72 per cent (6,042) of young people reported feeling depressive symptoms since the onset of the pandemic. The impact of COVID-19 has led to increased levels of poverty, with higher number of children dropping out of school. As a result, South Africa experienced an increase in gender-based violence and poor access to contraceptives and termination of pregnancies which has led to a surge in pregnancies among young girls, aged between 10 and 19 years, from 130,000 in 2017-2018 to an estimated 160,200 in 2021 to 2022.

The KZN flooding in April killed at least 435 people and more than 17,00 people were directly affected. The cost of damage was an estimate ZAR 7 billion (US$ 400 million) with more than 31,200 jobs affected, the majority in eThekwini district, Durban. The KZN floods hit on the back off the previous years unrest that affected many of the same districts in KZN province.


  • UNICEF scaled up its COVID-19 vaccination roll-out response through technical cold chain support to the National and Provincial Departments of Health, as well as risk communication and community engagement (RCCE) work, reaching about 12.8 million people with lifesaving information about COVID-19 vaccinations and child health services. The country reached 50 per cent COVID-19 vaccine coverage among the adult population by June.
  • Emergency education and early childhood development programmes provided about 470,000 children with improved access to quality education services to mitigate the long-term impact of COVID-19 learning disruptions and the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province floods in April 2022.
  • Multi-purpose cash grants for 725 families and WASH programming were activated to alleviate the impact of the KZN floods on vulnerable households, while broader psychosocial support helped improve the mental wellbeing of about 230,250 children.
South Africa humanitarian situation report 31 December 2022 cover
UNICEF South Africa

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