UNICEF South Africa, COVID-19 and Pandora's box

COVID-19 has unlocked Pandora’s box. UNICEF SA’s humanitarian response has been swift and pro-active - initiating emergency response programmes and sustainable initiatives.

Fundraising team
UNICEF/UNI329887/Frank Dejo
03 July 2020

A few months ago, nobody could have foreseen the world we now live in and what constitutes our new daily reality. This global pandemic - a.k.a. COVID-19 - has unlocked ‘Pandora’s box.’ The processes initiated to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus have generated a multitude of unforeseen complex issues and problems, exposing fault lines in our social systems and affecting the lives of millions of children and their broader communities. UNICEF South Africa’s humanitarian response has been swift and pro-active - initiating emergency response programmes and sustainable initiatives. 

UNICEF South Africa is acutely aware of the secondary effects that have resulted from the COVID-19 regulations and lockdown restrictions, particularly on the lives of children in informal settlements and under-resourced communities. The knock-on impact of school closures, the loss of family incomes, and the struggle for parents and caregivers to care for children have had far-reaching effects. 

As these vulnerable children have been put at risk, their safety and well-being have been compromised. Their basic rights, such as daily hygiene and sanitation, nutrition, education and protection from domestic abuse and violence, have come under threat. UNICEF South Africa has been at the forefront of stepping in with both on-the-ground and behind-the-scenes work.

Active on-the-ground

As COVID-19 hit our shores, UNICEF South Africa responded with the #LittleHandsMatter campaign. Thanks to generous donations and donor support, the initiative to build permanent group handwashing stations at schools in under-resourced communities took on a life of its own. 


As lockdown levels left children unable to go to school, UNICEF South Africa realized they needed to upscale their response to fight the spread of the coronavirus. Once again, with donations from individuals and corporates, and partnering with the Department of Water and Sanitation, EaziWash #HandHygiene stations were installed in vulnerable communities and informal settlements across South Africa. 

But the need grew, and UNICEF South Africa’s #BucketsOfCare campaign was born - an initiative to reach 2000 families in need. To date, 151 families have benefited as the programme rolls out. 

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Active behind-the-scenes

To ensure sustainability on-the-ground, UNICEF South Africa is actively involved behind-the-scenes in responding to COVD-19 humanitarian needs in all 9 provinces. Working with the Department of Basic Education, learners have had access to resources, educational content and lessons through radio, TV and the 2Enable online platform throughout the various lockdown levels.


Generous funding has enabled UNICEF South Africa to partner with Childline to train more counsellors nationwide who are equipped to help and support children suffering from anxiety or abuse and exploitation. Up to 90 counsellors are currently working tirelessly in 9 centres.

These are just some of the areas where UNICEF South Africa is working behind-the-scenes to reimagine a future where every child has the resources to live a happy and healthy life.  

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Active on social media

Social media platforms play a big role in awareness, public engagement and general transparency of a humanitarian organisation’s community involvement and commitment. 

UNICEF South Africa’s presence on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter ensure public buy-in and accountability. Partnering and interacting with the broader public in every campaign initiative is vital to UNICEF South Africa and is an opportunity to keep everyone up-to-date with what they are involved in - on-the-ground and behind-the-scenes.  

As COVID-19 statistics continue to impact the lives of children, families and communities, UNICEF South Africa is involved on the frontlines. But they cannot do it alone. Your help and donations go a long way in helping children in South Africa who need it most. 

Support UNICEF South Africa today to help build a brighter tomorrow for every child.