Eritrea is characterized by harsh climatic conditions, including cyclical drought, which affects groundwater resources, and flooding during rainy seasons. These events exacerbate the vulnerability of communities, making it difficult for families to fully recover from the effects of one emergency before another strikes. In recent years, the country’s climatic conditions have tested the coping capacities of the population, which is largely dependent (80 per cent) on subsistence agriculture.1 In 2010, half of all children under 5 years were stunted,2 and children are affected by sporadic outbreaks of diarrhoea and measles. The risk of landmines and explosive remnants of war continues to affect border communities, particularly children. Some 300,000 children are out of school, with the majority of out-of-school children from nomadic communities that are vulnerable to natural disasters.3 In July 2018, following the signing of the Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship by Ethiopia and Eritrea, tensions softened significantly between the neighbouring countries, and in November 2018, the United Nations Security Council lifted sanctions against Eritrea.
In 2019, UNICEF and partners will mainstream humanitarian preparedness planning and response within regular programmes to reach children in need in Eritrea. Integrated and multisectoral approaches will be used to deliver life-saving interventions. For example, the provision of safe water and sanitation to affected populations will be used as an entry point to reducing stunting among children under 5 years, and the nutrition response will focus on the integrated management of acute malnutrition. UNICEF will reach communities in hard-to-reach areas with integrated services using mobile outreach clinics. Local communities will be supported to strengthen their capacities to manage common childhood illnesses, including diarrhoea, and promote positive health-seeking behaviours, such as handwashing and other hygiene practices. UNICEF will also prioritize strengthening health systems and improving immunization coverage. Out-of-school children, particularly in nomadic and seminomadic communities, will be reached through a back-to-learning campaign. UNICEF will provide basic services, such as education, health care, psychosocial support and cash grants, to strengthen community resilience, protect children on the move and build the life skills of adolescents in danger of irregular migration. Mine risk education and other critical life-saving interventions will target schoolchildren in communities at risk of landmines and unexploded remnants of war.
Results from 2018
As of 31 October 2018, UNICEF had US$10.9 million available against the US$14 million appeal (78 per cent funded).4 UNICEF and the Ministry of Health supported the training of 570 volunteers to promote infant and young child feeding practices and active case finding for children with acute malnutrition. As a result, over 32,000 children with moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) and nearly 13,000 children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) received treatment. Over 265,000 children received vitamin A supplementation, and this figure is likely to reach 500,000 by the end of the ongoing measles-rubella vaccination campaign. In addition, some 38,000 children and women in hard-to-reach areas received supplementary feeding; more than 32,000 children affected by diarrhoea received life-saving treatment; and over 11,000 pregnant and lactating women received antenatal and postnatal services. UNICEF also supported the Ministry of Health to identify gaps in the health response and mainstream risk communication into national health promotion policy.
In partnership with the Water Resources Department, UNICEF supported over 21,000 people with access to safe water, and some 67,000 people received information on appropriate hygiene practices. Over 97,800 children from at-risk communities received mine risk education, and over 6,700 children from nomadic communities gained access to education.