2021 wasn't exactly what we had all hoped for. Particularly after such an eventful 2020. Though when tragedy struck, we not only persevered, we also accomplished incredible things for those most vulnerable around the world.
A second wave of COVID-19 cases crippled India earlier this year. Public health services were disrupted nationwide. Hospitals and health centres struggled to keep up with the high volume of patients. As an added burden, there was a massive shortage of hospital beds, oxygen concentrators and other essential supplies.
UNICEF launched an emergency campaign to support India's urgent need for lifesaving medical supplies, while also sending our experts to support essential workers and local communities. And it wouldn't have been possible without our amazing donors. It is crucial we all work together during times of crisis. Not only do we call on the support of generous New Zealanders, but other local organisations. By teaming up with Vodafone, donations to our COVID-19 India campaign went three times further.
India - June 2021 - UNICEF staff unload lifesaving oxygen concentrators.
As of September 2021, UNICEF had procured and delivered over 3,844 pieces of electrical cold chain equipment (refrigerators, freezers and solar equipment) and over 210,000 pieces non-electrical cold chain equipment (cold box, vaccine carriers, toolkits) to the Government of India.
Fast forward a few months and the Aroha Partnership was struck - a landmark 5 year partnership between UNICEF Aotearoa & the NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT). In our very own Asia-Pacific neighbourhood, kids aren't always getting the basics they need to survive and thrive. Things we might not think twice about; a quality early childhood education, safe drinking water and even simple sanitation facilities.
We plan to deliver life-changing WASH (Water, Sanitation & Hygiene) services to tamariki in Vanuatu, Kiribati and the Solomon Islands whilst also providing ECCE (Early Children Care & Education) to some of those Pacific countries as well as Timor-Leste. These services will not only help children become healthier, but more resilient. We believe that no matter where you’re from, every child deserves the best start in life. The Aroha Partnership is an exciting opportunity to change the course of children’s lives and make a tangible difference for generations to come.
In August, UNICEF quickly jumped into action to support displaced children and their families in Afghanistan. Living there has always been hard for kids but after internal conflict, COVID-19 and drought - it’s been even tougher. In 2021 alone, UNICEF has reached 19.5 million people in Afghanistan with lifesaving assistance. Even so, worsening conditions are causing us to urgently scale-up our response in preparation for winter and the on-going drought situation.
Afghanistan - November 2021 - Nazia, holds her one-year-old daughter Aqsad as she talks to a UNICEF Nutrition Officer at a health clinic in Kandahar.
Even at the height of crisis, and under adverse conditions, we continued our work on the ground for children and families across Afghanistan. At times fighting may force our teams to relocate - but we are committed to maintaining our presence in areas of conflict and delivering critical support.
Now, as 2021 draws to a close and the COVID-19 pandemic approaches its third year, we look towards a future without further disruptions. We’re in a race to end the pandemic with the most ambitious vaccine delivery target in history. Though it may seem like a daunting number, UNICEF has the means and experience to deliver 3 billion COVID-19 vaccines to those most in need.
UNICEF’s priority is the health and wellbeing of all children - and although children won’t receive these vaccines; we’re prioritising healthcare and other key workers they rely on, which means children can continue getting the critical everyday care they need to thrive and survive. If this year is anything to go by, we’re more than ready to tackle 2022, no matter what’s around the corner.