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Humanitarian Action for Children 2021 - Uganda

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  • Uganda faces multiple humanitarian crises every year, including refugee influxes, disease outbreaks and meteorological disasters. In 2020, these emergencies were compounded by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and as a result, an estimated 15 million women and children will require humanitarian assistance in Uganda in 2021.

  • UNICEF plans to reach 1.9 million people with basic health services, over 40,000 children with treatment for severe acute malnutrition (SAM),125,000 people with access to safe water, nearly 28,000 children with psychosocial support services and over 156,000 children with access to education. UNICEF also intends to support over 1.5 million people to safely report sexual exploitation and abuse.

  • In an already constrained funding landscape, in 2021, UNICEF requires US$25 million to realize the rights of children, adolescents and woman affected by these crises, and help save their lives.


Uganda's containment measures following the outbreak of COVID-19 in March 2020 have gravely affected the economic opportunities available to a population that relies on informal employment to survive. Risk of exposure to COVID-19 is highly concentrated among poor households (47 per cent of the population).

Due to lack of water and sanitation facilities in health institutions, schools and communities, over 580,000 people require water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services. The additional stress that COVID-19 has placed on health institutions across the country has left over 15 million people in need of essential health care.

School-aged children have missed 60 per cent of the 840 hours of instruction planned for Term 1 due to school closures.

Evidence suggests that school closures during the lockdown period have also triggered protection risks, especially for girls, including sexual exploitation and abuse, forced child marriage and adolescent pregnancies, and exacerbated other forms of violence, particularly in the home.

The number of sexual violence cases reported in refugee-hosting districts has significantly increased, from 729 in the first quarter to 1,860 in the second quarter 2020.

More than 2 million children need child protection services and support and over 15 million need access to safe channels to report allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse.

Uganda hosts 1.4 million refugees, most of whom fled from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan due to insecurity and political instability. Some 82 per cent of refugees are women and children.

Considering overcrowding in urban settlements, poor access to clean water and sanitation, high prevalence of undernutrition and the multiple protection risks, an estimated 4.1 million people will need humanitarian assistance in refugee-hosting districts by the end of 2021.

Meteorological hazards also continue to impact Uganda. More than 400,000 people were affected by the May 2020 floods and have experienced displacement, the destruction of infrastructure and risks of waterborne and climate-sensitive diseases.

Natural hazards also exacerbate already high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition. The latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification completed in 2017 classified 30 per cent of the Karamoja population in phase 2 (stressed) and 12 per cent in phase 3 (crisis). About one quarter of children under 5 years in the Karamoja subregion are stunted, and 1 child in 10 is wasted. 17