Situation in Numbers
828,431 Confirmed COVID-19 positive cases in Nepal (as of 31 December)
76,942 Children under the age of 19 years tested COVID-19 positive
508 Loss of lives due to major disaster incidents (January-Dec 2021)
568,000 Children in need
1,400,000 People in need of humanitarian assistance
In 2021, Nepal experienced the alarming second wave of the COVID-19 resulting in over 9,700 reported COVID-19 related deaths in 2021. The total national COVID-19 tally reached 828,4311 (with 76,942 people under the age of 20) and 11,594 fatalities as of 31 December.
The overall humanitarian and socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 and the prolonged monsoon in 2021 was unprecedented, as access to services such as nutrition, education and healthcare were disrupted, exacerbating the situation for the most vulnerable households.
Over 242 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered by the government as of 31 December, covering 70 per cent of targeted population (above 18 years of age) with first dose and 52 per cent with two full doses of vaccine. Vaccination of children over 12 years with risk of complications began in November.
UNICEF reached to 273,463 people including 148,720 returnees with at least one or more WASH services and supplies.
UNICEF supported 346,886 children (49.4 per cent girls) to access formal or non-formal education, and over 129,910 children (52 per cent girls) with self-learning materials.
Funding Overview and Partnerships
UNICEF appealed for US$ 25.5 million in 2021 to sustain the provisions and meet the needs of children, women and their families in Nepal, affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and to respond to the natural disasters such as monsoon flooding, in line with the UNICEF Nepal Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) Appeal. During 2021, UNICEF mobilized US$ 13.6 million including US$ 10.44 million received in 2021, in addition to the US$ 3.18 million of carry-forward from late 2020. UNICEF also re-programmed approximately US$ 1.2 million of its own regular resource and donor funds for responding to COVID-19. ECHO, EU, World bank, Asian Development Bank, UNDP/MDTF, UNOCHA, WHO, USAID, British Government/FCDO, GAVI, US Committee for UNICEF, Australian Committee for UNICEF, Netherlands Committee for UNICEF, Swiss Committee for UNICEF, Swedish Committee for UNICEF, German Committee for UNICEF, UK Committee for UNICEF, UNICEF’s Global Thematic Humanitarian Response Fund, and Government of New Zealand generously contributed to the UNICEF Nepal’s humanitarian response in 2021. UNICEF is thankful for all the contributions and expresses its sincere gratitude to all donors for helping families and children in Nepal during the current crisis.
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
The overall humanitarian situation in Nepal throughout 2021 was overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the prolonged monsoon, impacting thousands, including children. Nepal experienced the alarming second surge of the COVID-19 pandemic in April-June, which further exacerbated the existing vulnerabilities of children and families. There was a steep rise in cases from 152 cases/day at the beginning of April, which continued to spike rapidly from mid-April, and reached up to 9,300 cases/day in early May, with case positivity rate as high as 47 per cent. The second surge triggered humanitarian needs and various socio-economic issues, heavily impacting children and the vulnerable. Schools were closed for in-person classes for almost six months, till mid-September, leaving over eight million children (49 per cent girls) out of school. During classroom closures, UNICEF rapid assessment, surveys revealed that half the students did not have access to distance learning. Additionally, more than a half of Nepalis lost their jobs during this period, with the loss of household income impacting children on multiple fronts including learning discontinuation, according to UNICEF Nepal Child and Family Tracker (CFT) Survey from June.
By end of 2021, the reported cumulative number of COVID-19 related deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, reached 11,594 people in Nepal, including 106 children below 19 years. Of this, over 9,700 deaths were reported in 20214. As of 31 December, the total number of COVID-19 cases had reached 828,4315 including 76,942 children while the cumulative recovery rate reached at 98 per cent according to the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP). The global emergence of Omicron variant and the detection of third6 Omicron cases in Nepal on 22 December and the spike in cases in neighbouring India, came as a major concern towards the end of the year, with government urging people to strictly follow public health protocols, and to get vaccinated as health experts warned of a possible third wave of COVID-19.
The Monsoon seasonal flooding and landslides started the second week of June (and lasted until late October, when there were unseasonal heavy rains) further exacerbated the hardship already caused by COVID-19, affecting almost the whole country, claiming 2637 lives (101 females,153 males, 9 gender unknown) and seven provinces. The monsoon caused massive damage to public properties like schools, roads, bridges, government offices and hydropower stations and in the agriculture sector, especially the ready-to harvest paddy crops, while severely limiting access of relief to affected population. Meanwhile a cholera/dysentery outbreak was reported in Krishnanagar municipality of Kapilvastu district in the first week of October, and UNICEF and WHO teams responded.
The Government of Nepal (GoN) began its COVID-19 vaccination campaign this year in January, and UNICEF provided technical, operational and logistics support to these vaccination efforts. Over 248 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered by the government as of 31 December. The government’s national COVID-19 vaccination campaign had fully vaccinated over 52 per cent of target population (above 18 years of age), i.e.,10,384,8519 people with both doses, with a further around 70 per cent of the target population having received one dose of vaccine, as of 31 December. The GoN is continuing its efforts in the ongoing vaccination campaign and UNICEF continues to provide technical, operational and logistics support to the vaccination efforts. As of late December, over 7.725 million COVID-19 vaccines were delivered through the COVAX10 facility to the GoN as part of ongoing COVAX partnership. Meanwhile, on 14 November, the government rolled out the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine targeting, for the first time, children aged 12 to 17 years of age, from high co-morbid group. This was administered through 24 selected tertiary level hospitals nationwide. In total, as of 31 December, Nepal has received around 39.20 million11 doses of various COVID vaccines (VeroCell, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Janssen and Janssen, and Pfizer-BioNTech).
Throughout the year, the national political context continued to evolve with various events of political significance and its impact on governance and somewhat impacted COVID-19 preparedness and response.