Humanitarian Action for Children 2018 - East Asia and the Pacific (Revised April 2018)
East Asia and the Pacific
East Asia and the Pacific is the most disaster-stricken region in the world. In 2016, disasters affected more than 86 million people in the region, compared with 40 million. In February 2018, Papua New Guinea was struck by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake which caused devastating landslides and widespread destruction. Some 270,000 people, including 125,000 children, are in need of immediate life-saving assistance. More generally, across the region, population growth, rapid urbanization, environmental degradation and other factors continue to accelerate and exacerbate hazard trends. Hazards associated with climate change are increasing in frequency and severity and leading to extreme weather events, drought and frequent floods/landslides. The recurrent typhoons in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Philippines, Viet Nam and the Pacific sub-region continue to exacerbate existing vulnerabilities, pose new health risks and challenge the establishment and delivery of quality infrastructure and basic services. Internal armed conflicts and ethnic strife, particularly in Myanmar and the Philippines, led to the internal and cross-border displacement and mass migration of more than 1 million people, more than 55 per cent of whom are children and adolescents. The tense political situation and recent United Nations sanctions have negatively impacted the well-being of children in the DPRK, who were already experiencing an acute nutritional crisis. The growth of populations and infrastructure in hazardous coastal areas, which are becoming disaster hotspots, also represents a key challenge.
Regional humanitarian strategy
UNICEF's East Asia and the Pacific Regional Office will continue to strengthen regional capacities for preparedness and humanitarian response; expand sustainable access to improved nutrition, health, water, sanitation, education and child protection services; and foster social cohesion for greater resilience. The Regional Office will support country cooperation by providing technical support to national stakeholders and strengthening systems and institutions to facilitate quality assurance and standard setting that will improve the delivery of humanitarian action for children. Regional partners and country offices will be supported to contribute to regional and national policies and systems and make these inclusive and child-sensitive. The Regional Office will also work with country offices to strengthen government capacities for child-sensitive risk assessment and planning that supports shock-resistant development interventions and longer-term approaches. Continuing contributions to the regional partnerships with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Inter-Agency Standing Committee and the Children in a Changing Climate Coalition will support effective action for children that addresses climate change, resilience building and disaster risk reduction. Knowledge management will be strengthened through research, studies and the documentation of good practices and lessons learned to generate evidence and facilitate greater predictability and accountability in humanitarian response in the context of a changing region. The Regional Office will continue to foster innovation and build country capacities to implement emerging humanitarian response modalities, such as cash transfers in emergencies, the provision of quality health services to reduce the impact of air pollution on child health, and engagement with children, including children with disabilities and adolescents. Given the increasing government capacities for emergency response in the region, the Regional Office will work with country offices to carry out relief efforts through regional mechanisms that draw on country expertise and pool resources to provide surge support. The Regional Office will also invest in its own capacity to cover all facets of its humanitarian-development programming, in line with its child rights mandate.
Results from 2017
In 2017, funds received under the HAC enabled effective regional support for humanitarian response in and enhanced preparedness/disaster risk reduction. This included the provision of nutrition and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions in response to severe winter conditions in Mongolia and drought and salt water intrusion in Viet Nam. In the Philippines, the immediate needs of displaced communities in Marawi were addressed through the provision of WASH, nutrition, health, education and child protection services. Pacific Island countries undertook several WASH interventions, including capacity building, supply pre-positioning and the development of emergency preparedness and response plans/toolkits. Twenty-five staff received training through the Regional Rapid Response Mechanism, which enhanced their capacities for rapid emergency response and increased standing humanitarian surge capacity for deployment within the region. In addition, UNICEF staff from eight countries received emergency preparedness and response training with regional support. The UNICEF country offices in Cambodia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Viet Nam received technical support to adapt shock-responsive social protection mechanisms. To strengthen knowledge management for humanitarian action, an after-action review was conducted in Viet Nam and shared with partners in a lessons learned exercise.
Papua New Guinea (PNG)
On 26 February 2018, Papua New Guinea was struck by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake, which caused devastating landslides and widespread destruction across the four provinces of Hela, Southern Highlands, Western Province and Enga. More than 100 people were killed and many more injured. Some 270,000 people, including 125,000 children, are in need of immediate life-saving assistance as they lost access to clean water sources, health facilities, their homes and gardens they relied on for food. As of 20 April, 11,041 households (42,5777 people) remain displaced due to the earthquake, including an estimated 24,100 people reportedly living in informal communal shelters without adequate water and sanitation.
The inter-agency strategic objectives agreed by the Disaster Management Team (DMT) include: (i) provision of life-saving assistance to affected populations and re-establishment of basic services; (ii) restoration of livelihoods and self-reliance; and (iii) provision of safety and protection for vulnerable people, including children and women. Working through national and provincial governments and with local faithbased organizations, UNICEF contributes towards the achievement of these objectives through its integrated approach, providing lifesaving assistance in health and nutrition, supporting access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene education, children’s access to safe learning spaces, providing psychosocial support and education for parents and primary caretakers of children. UNICEF has also prioritized community engagement and communication with affected populations through churches, community volunteers and local social media as key cross-cutting strategy.