UNICEF Pakistan Humanitarian Situation Report No. 32: January-December 2021


Situation in Numbers

5.9 million children in need of humanitarian assistance

11 million people in need

1,295,933 confirmed coronavirus cases in Pakistan (on 1st November)

1.7 million Children and women require nutrition services

Key Highlights

  • In 2021, Pakistan witnessed two waves of COVID-19, in March and in July.Over 90m people have been reached with messages on COVID-19 prevention and on access to services.

  • Through UNICEF supported health sites, 66,954 children (36,642 girls) have received treatment for Severe Acute Malnutrition and over 5.4m people benefited from continuity of primary healthcare services at UNICEF supported health facilities.

  • Through UNICEF support, 2.2 million people have been reached with handwashing behaviour change programmes and 391,450 caregivers, children and individuals reached with psychosocial support through trained social workforce.

  • A total of 45.6 per cent of Pakistan’s target population (12 years and above) is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with 63.4 per cent partially vaccinated.

  • An earthquake in Balochistan provinces in October, primarily Harnai district, resulted in loss of human life and property.

Funding Overview and Partnerships

In 2021, UNICEF Pakistan required US$ 61.4 million to support the nationwide COVID-19 humanitarian response, aid in the chronic nutrition emergency and emergency preparedness and response. During the year, US$ 13.46 million (22 per cent) of the requirement was received by the country. This includes US$ 7.08 million carried over from 2020. A critical funding gap of over US$ 47.94 million (78 per cent) remained at the end of the year, adversely effecting provision of essential emergency services in the country, especially for preparedness, nutrition, RCCE and education programmes.

US$ 3.76 million of Other Resources, re-purposed to support the response, contributed toward achieving significant results during the year. This includes funds received from the United Kingdom, Canada, UNICEF’s set-aside funds, Global Thematic Funds and Regular Resources.

UNICEF wishes to express its sincere gratitude to the Governments of United Kingdom, United States, Austrian Committee for UNICEF, Asian Development Bank, Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), World Bank, ECHO, Global Partnership for Education, Gavi - The Vaccine Alliance, United Kingdom Committee for UNICEF, Solidarity Fund, Standard Chartered, along with all its public and private donors for their contributions.

Situation Overview and Humanitarian Needs

During 2021, UNICEF Pakistan’s humanitarian interventions have been closely aligned with the interagency Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), 2021. Based on a joint needs analysis approximately 11 million people were projected to need some form of humanitarian assistance during the year, or just under 5 per cent of the total population. 8.3 million people in need were planned to be supported through the national response, from the government, from religious communities, from private sector and from the Pakistani people themselves. The HRP aimed to help support and complement this national response, thus the HRP targeted the most vulnerable 4.3 million people out of this group – 1.79 million of the most vulnerable people affected by floods, food insecurity, malnutrition and the indirect effects of COVID-19 ensuring living conditions, resilience, and protection.

COVID-19 situation: COVID-19 remained the focus of the Government of Pakistan and humanitarian community during 2021, continuing since the onset of the pandemic in early 2020 when the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the country. Since then, COVID-19 has infected about 1.3 million people and killed nearly 29,000 people. Regarding vaccination of the total eligible population [age 12 and above], 46 per cent is fully vaccinated and 63 per cent has received at least one dose. The government is advising to continue to use masks, avoid crowded places and ensure social distancing in the wake of rising cases of infection from the omicron variant. In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the federal health ministry adapted its facilities to vaccinate adults, who make up about half of Pakistan’s population.

A detailed stock of the disease situation in the country and full vaccination status of different cities was carried out during the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) session held on 31 December 21. Considering the improved vaccination status of the populace, the forum decided to “incentivize high vaccination cities” based on vaccinations status of above 55 per cent3 with no specific Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs), with all sectors permitted to return to normal life / business activities while adhering to: 1) continuation of COVID-19 protocols (mask wearing, social distancing and hand sanitisation) and 2) mandatory fully vaccination status for availing dining facilities, attendance to wedding events, gatherings, contact sports, shrines, office routine and gyms etc. Similarly, cities with vaccination status 45 to 54 per cent were allowed open with restricted indoor gatherings/dining and amusement parks, water sports and swimming pools continued activities at 70 per cent of capacity. For all cities categorized under low vaccination status, the NPIs were on 50 per cent occupancy basis with limited gatherings.

Planning is underway for providing free booster shots for frontline workers, people over 30 years of age and immuno-compromised to enhance the protection against new variants. Communication messages are being shared with emphasis on getting complete vaccination and following Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs, mask, handwashing, social distancing, avoiding crowded places) for protection against Omicron.

Neighbouring Afghanistan Unrest: Political, social and economic uncertainty in Afghanistan, especially for women and girls, has increased the possibility of additional refugees entering neighbouring countries, including Pakistan, for which UNICEF is has taken preparatory measures for a potential response to help protect the refugees’ human rights and address immediate needs of children and women, including in host communities.

Harnai Earthquake: An earthquake of magnitude 5.9 occurred on 7th October 2021, near Quetta, Balochistan, Pakistan. According to the National Seismic Monitoring Centre, the earthquake was centered near the Harnai district and had a depth of 9.3 miles. According to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) Baluchistan, 20 people died, including eight children; and more than 300 were injured (42 per cent children). Assistance was initiated immediately with provision of necessary medical care, food, and medicines to the remote mountainous district of Harnai, the worst-affected area, where a lack of paved roads, electricity, and mobile phone coverage hampered the rescue and recuperation efforts. More than 100 mud homes and 11 schools totally collapsed, and more than 5,000 were partially damaged making them uninhabitable, leaving thousands of people homeless.

Considering the poor community and marginalized area, the government of Pakistan, military, medical and paramedical services and humanitarian community, including UNICEF, supported basic needs of the affected community by providing them Non-Food Items (NFIs), shelter, medical assistance, food and enhanced essential services.