Children are disproportionately affected by the unfolding economic and political challenges in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Frequent interruptions in electricity, limited transportation due to the lack of fuel and vehicle spare parts, and increased insecurity have undermined the ability of many Venezuelans to meet their most basic needs. For children, it has been increasingly difficult to access food and water and attend school regularly. Vaccine-preventable diseases, including measles and diphtheria, have re-emerged, and cases of tuberculosis, HIV and malaria are on the rise. Some 6.8 million people are undernourished, and the prevalence of undernourishment is increasing, from 6.4 per cent in 2012–2014 to 21.2 per cent in 2016– 2018. At least 4.3 million people lack access to safe water, and 14 per cent of the population only receives water every 15 days. An estimated 1.3 million children are in need of protection, and 2.2 million children require access to education.
In line with the Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action and joint humanitarian action planning, UNICEF will continue to implement an integrated, multisectoral, inclusive response and expand its field presence to address the needs of Venezuelan children in 2020. UNICEF will increase access to clean water, basic sanitation and life-saving maternal and child health services; facilitate the prevention and treatment of all forms of malnutrition; enhance access to quality formal and non-formal education; incentivize professional cadres through conditioned cash transfers; provide prevention and response interventions to children affected by violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, including gender-based violence; and disseminate timely information to promote positive behaviour change. The response will also focus on providing lifesaving supplies and services; strengthening monitoring and evaluation; establishing mechanisms for accountability to affected populations and prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse; and building local technical capacities in partnership with authorities, civil society and other United Nations agencies. UNICEF leads the nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and education clusters and the child protection area of responsibility, and actively participates in the health cluster and gender-based violence area of responsibility. UNICEF’s experience and strategic field presence will enable effective humanitarian assistance across the country.
Results from 2019
As of 31 August 2019, UNICEF had US$6.7 million available against the US$70.4 million appeal (9.5 per cent funded). Prior to this appeal, UNICEF Venezuela scaled up its interventions with a budget of US$32 million (87 per cent funded) for activities conducted through June 2019. Working with 20 partners, UNICEF reached some 308,900 people, including over 157,000 children, with humanitarian assistance during the year. The operational context is still very constrained, with constant power cuts outside of Caracas, difficulties accessing fuel and security challenges that have restricted UNICEF's ability to access the most vulnerable children in some parts of the country. This has had a direct impact on health outreach activities, including vaccination efforts in remote rural areas. In addition, the number of local partners with sufficient humanitarian expertise and presence throughout the country is limited, which has delayed the implementation of some interventions, including individual or group mental health and psychosocial support activities. The financial crisis has decimated the number of suppliers and contractors in the country, which has challenged UNICEF's ability to contract qualified water infrastructure suppliers. To overcome these challenges, UNICEF will increase its direct implementation programming and monitoring activities in 2020.