Humanitarian Action for Children 2021 - Ghana

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  • Ghana has confirmed the second highest number of COVID-19 cases in the West and Central Africa region, after Nigeria, and the fifth highest number of cases in the World Health Organization (WHO) Africa region. As the strain of the pandemic adds to existing risks, such as disease outbreaks, floods, earthquakes and spillover of armed violence from the Central Sahel, there is an urgent need to reinforce coordination mechanisms and community structures for preparedness and response.

  • UNICEF's strategy in Ghana involves protecting children and their families from exposure to COVID-19, minimizing mortality and supporting the continuity of services while ensuring preparedness for potential humanitarian crises.

  • UNICEF is requesting US$26.9 million to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and support emergency preparedness in Ghana in 2021.

6.8 million people
3.5 million children

2.4 million people
1.4 million children

US$ 26.9 million


16,424 children admitted for treatment for severe acute malnutrition

120,000 women and children accessing gender-based violence risk mitigation/prevention/response

1.4 million children accessing educational services

256,500 households reached with cash transfers where UNICEF provided technical assistance


Ghana has confirmed the second highest number of COVID-19 cases in the West and Central Africa region, after Nigeria, and the fifth highest number of cases in the WHO Africa region. The Greater Accra and Ashanti regions have been most severely affected.

The suspension of learning in more than 42,000 schools across the country due to the pandemic has adversely affected some 9.2 million basic education students, 500,000 tertiary education students, 450,000 teachers and 1,500 teacher educators directly employed by the Government. School closures have also impacted 61 schools for children with disabilities, impacting over 7,600 vulnerable learners.

Across the country, limited access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities is undermining effective infection prevention and control. More than half of the population of Ghana has not adopted effective handwashing with soap on a regular basis.12 Three basic schools in five lack a safe water supply, and two in five lack sanitation facilities. Health sector data show that about 25 per cent of health centres lack adequate water and sanitation facilities. The COVID-19 crisis led to a reduction in social service coverage and impacted nutrition treatment and prevention services delivered through health and school platforms.

Rapid assessments conducted by UNICEF and partners indicate that violence and abuse at home may be on the rise in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thirty-two per cent of adolescents and young people reported having observed increased abusive behaviour within their families during the past two months, including financial abuse (34 per cent), emotional abuse (32 per cent), physical abuse (17 per cent), sexual abuse (10 per cent) and mental/psychological abuse (7 per cent). In addition, 32 per cent of respondents felt that caregivers treated them more harshly than before. Evidence also shows that there is a strong increase in child abuse cases and a decline in violence prevention programming (77 per cent decline) in the Greater Accra and Ashanti regions.

Beyond the health impacts of the pandemic, the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 are expected to be wide-ranging in Ghana, and will pose a serious threat to poverty reduction and progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. In 2019, 6.8 million Ghanaians were living in poverty, including 2.4 million Ghanaians who were extremely poor.16 Nearly three quarters of children in Ghana are deprived in three or more poverty dimensions; for children under 5 years, this proportion is even higher at nearly 83 per cent.