Responding to emergencies
In 2019, the UNICEF emergency supply and logistics operations spanned 58 countries and reached a global procurement value of 346.1 million.
While 2019 marked the 30th anniversary of the landmark Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions, over 30 million children remained displaced by internal and international conflicts. UNICEF immunization, nutrition, water and sanitation and education supplies reached displaced children throughout the year.
The scale of the UNICEF supply response increases with the longevity and severity of conflicts. With no resolution in sight to the Rohingya refugee crisis in 2019, UNICEF identified a construction solution to build longer-lasting, higher-quality learning centres for displaced children in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Similarly, in Yemen, the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, UNICEF assessed growing construction needs and devised a strategic execution plan to bring them to scale.
UNICEF meets operational challenges with preparedness plans. When Cyclones Idai and Kenneth tore through Mozambique and the surrounding region UNICEF was quick to mobilize its largest deployment of the year. Relying on its dry season prepositioning plan, UNICEF circumvents infrastructure challenges and a six-month rainy season in South Sudan to reach children and families with essential supplies.
Working with governments, partners, suppliers and local communities, UNICEF oversees an extensive emergency response, sending supplies to the hardest to reach areas.
UNICEF supply response in the highest-level emergencies in 2019
The three largest commodity groups by value procured for each emergency, demonstrating how different contexts required different responses. The total procurement value includes all commodity groups and services.
Five years of conflict in Yemen have taken a toll on nearly the entire country’s population, including 12 million children. Perpetual attacks and a high rate of internal displacement have compromised water networks, health facilities, schools and other infrastructure. Enormous construction needs and timely donations have resulted in the steep increase of construction value in 2019, requiring UNICEF to devise a new strategic execution plan to help scale its supply response in the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.
Mozambique and the surrounding region
Southern Africa witnessed one of its worst natural disasters in March, when Cyclone Idai tore through Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Six weeks later, Cyclone Kenneth followed, becoming the strongest cyclone to ever hit the African continent. The intense cyclones left severe flooding in their wake. UNICEF responded with 8 charter flights of supplies and 12 international deployments or the equivalent of 510 days, the biggest in 2019. The emergency response included cholera prevention and treatment efforts, and the reestablishment of primary healthcare services to avoid outbreaks of water-borne and other communicable diseases. Supplies were distributed through partners on the ground to reach communities in Sofala, Manica, Zambezia and Cabo Delgado provinces.
The Syrian Arab Republic and the surrounding region
By 2019, the conflict in Syria had displaced 6 million people and driven another 5 million into the neighbouring countries of Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. UNICEF continued to support children, almost half of the affected population, with immunization, winterization and education supplies.
South Sudan remains one of the most challenging operational contexts in the world with extremely poor infrastructure, insecurity and more than half of the population in dire need of humanitarian assistance. During the seasonal rain, 60 per cent of the roads become impassable. In 2019, unpreceded flooding exacerbated an already difficult situation. Yet, UNICEF was able to reach women and children in need, including in hard-to-reach areas through the integrated rapid response mechanism and the use of water and air assets. The dry season prepositioning of supplies prevented pipeline breaches and a substantial decrease in hostilities eased access.
The number of regions affected by the humanitarian crisis in Cameroon doubled to eight in 2019, from an initial four at the start of the conflict in 2017. Children were at a heightened risk of disruption of vaccination activities and primary health care services. Despite humanitarian access being very limited, UNICEF provided US$17 million in emergency supplies, including US$11 million worth of vaccines and biologicals.
Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela migration crisis
In 2019, UNICEF reinforced its three field offices in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to support a rapid expansion of service delivery, including large scale procurement. To help children in a deepening socio-economic context, UNICEF worked closely with national authorities and local partners to deliver critical supplies such as vaccines, medical equipment, nutrition products and educational kits.
The Central African Republic
Despite the signing of a peace agreement in early 2019, violence and destruction have not ceased in the Central African Republic. To support the 1 million children still in need of humanitarian assistance, UNICEF continued to send vaccines, field equipment and WASH supplies.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo and the surrounding region
The humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is multi-faceted. Severe food insecurity was compounded by disease outbreaks and recurrent armed conflicts. In 2019, a nationwide measles epidemic was declared, 17,000 cases of cholera were recorded, and the country’s tenth Ebola outbreak that started in August 2018 became the country’s largest. UNICEF continued to send water and sanitation supplies, medical kits and vaccines.
The scale of armed violence and the harsh effects of climate change have severely disrupted the lives of 4.3 million children in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Chronic food insecurity and forced displacement created significant barriers for children and families trying to access essential supplies in Central Sahel. With over half a million children under five years of age at risk of acute malnutrition, nutrition supplies comprised the bulk of the UNICEF supply response.
With no resolution in sight to the Rohingya refugee crisis, undocumented Myanmar nationals remained stuck in the world’s largest refugee camp complex in Bangladesh in 2019. The longevity of the crisis prompted UNICEF to find a sustainable alternative to the non-durable tents used as learning centres, with a large-scale plan to replace over 3,000 of those put in motion towards the end of the year.