The situation in Guinea remains fragile for millions of children due to high rates of poverty and the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Guinea is also facing the recurrent threat of epidemics, high rates of acute malnutrition, cyclical natural disasters (floods) and socio-political unrest.
Against the backdrop of a health system that is struggling to recover from the 2014–2016 Ebola epidemic, the emergence of COVID-19 has led to a 19 per cent drop in pentavalent 3 vaccine coverage rates, a 20 per cent increase in early marriage and violence (including sexual violence), a weakened water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) system, and the closure of schools, which has affected nearly 3 million students.
UNICEF requires US$11.8 million to help control the spread of the epidemics, lay the foundation for uninterrupted service provision and protect women and children from violence.
7.7 million people
6.6 million children
TO BE REACHED
4.7 million people
3.7 million children
US$ 11.8 million
KEY PLANNED TARGETS
1.5 million primary caregivers receiving infant and young child feeding counselling
1.7 million children vaccinated against measles
100,000 people accessing a sufficient quantity of safe water
200,000 women and children accessing gender-based violence risk mitigation/prevention/response
HUMANITARIAN SITUATION AND NEEDS
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing humanitarian needs in Guinea. The virus has spread to the most vulnerable regions in the country, including those prone to natural disasters and other epidemics.
Following the 2014–2016 Ebola outbreak, Guinea’s health system remains fragile, with inadequate facilities, limited capacities and low immunization coverage. These challenges, and decreased health service utilization due to COVID-19, have fuelled ongoing measles and polio outbreaks. In total, nearly 1.7 million and 1.2 million children under 5 years require measles and polio vaccination, respectively.
Efforts to control COVID-19 transmission have been jeopardized by the lack of adequate WASH services in health facilities, schools and communities, and the fact that development partners are focusing primarily on Conakry, the pandemic epicentre. Twenty-one per cent of households, 69 per cent of health facilities and 64 per cent of schools lack access to safe water.
The closure of schools due to COVID-19 in March 2020 has deprived 2.9 million students of their educations, and worsened school exclusion in a context where 41 per cent of school-aged children are already out of school. School closures may disproportionately affect girls and exacerbate gender inequities, with an increased likelihood of early and/or forced marriage, child labour, sexual exploitation and abuse and adolescent pregnancies, particularly for those living in poverty.
The nutritional situation of children aged 6 to 59 months is under threat due to COVID-19 and persistent food insecurity. In 2020, UNICEF estimates that the cumulative impacts of both COVID-19 and food insecurity could increase the number of children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) from 210,000 to 248,000 nationwide.
Violence against women and children has increased by 20 per cent due to the pandemic,exacerbating an already alarming situation in a country where violence – including sexual violence – is widespread. Gender-based violence is a major concern: 55 per cent of women are victims of physical violence and 29 per cent are victims of sexual violence.
In addition, Guinea is facing the ongoing impacts of flooding and heightened risk of post-election violence. These crises, coupled with weak governance in some sectors, will negatively impact children's health, education, nutrition, protection and access to water in 2021. The situation may further deteriorate if conflicts in neighbouring Côte d’Ivoire and Mali spill over and necessitate rapid investments in emergency preparedness.