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By Lara Robertson
11 June 2024

In recent weeks, a series of devastating floods have struck several countries, displacing hundreds of thousands of families. In places like Afghanistan, Brazil, Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, and Tanzania, entire communities, lives, and livelihoods have been swept away.  

From violent conflicts to natural disasters, UNICEF is always there for children before, during and after emergencies. Thanks to the generosity of people like you, we’re on the ground responding to disasters like these and providing crucial support to children and families in need. 

Afghanistan

Starting on 10 May, flash floods swept through northeastern Afghanistan, resulting in the tragic loss of nearly 350 lives, including at least a dozen children. Over 5,000 families found themselves displaced as their homes were destroyed or severely damaged.  

A young girl sits on a bed in a house in Afghanistan. © UNICEF/UNI576411/Meerzad

Hajera, 11, faced unimaginable hardship when the floods struck. Many people, including her family, lost their entire homes, and are now living in tents provided by UNICEF or are living in a small room in their neighbour’s house. Hajera urgently needed medical care as her lungs had filled with fluid during the floods, leaving her struggling for breath. Now, she has found refuge in her neighbour’s home, where she can begin her recovery.   

"The flood took everything we had, including my books and notebooks and I cannot go to school without them."

Hajera, 11
A young boy walks past a flood-damaged school in Afghanistan.© UNICEF/UNI577682/Khayyam

In the wake of the devastating floods, schools across the region – including this one in Baghlan Province – have faced closures. For children, education is the key to a brighter future, but natural disasters can disrupt their learning journey, especially when they’re displaced or living in poverty. 

UNICEF is on the ground in affected areas supplying learning supplies and creating safe spaces where children can continue their education and also have somewhere to play. 

Two children walk towards a collection of tents in a flood-affected village in Afghanistan.© UNICEF/UNI576398/Meerzad

Burundi

Burundi, a land locked country in east Africa, faces enormous and complex challenges and is one of the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world. Sadly, the humanitarian situation in Burundi has become even more challenging due to relentless heavy rainfall in the country since October 2023. Amplified by the El Niño weather phenomenon, these rains have unleashed severe flooding that has destroyed almost 20,000 homes and displaced over 98,000 people.

An aerial shot of the village of Gatumba in Burundi, which is submerged in floodwaters.
The village of Gatumba was one of the worst-affected regions during the recent floods.
© UNICEF/UNI569389/UNICEF Burundi
© UNICEF/UNI569382/UNICEF Burundi
A school in Gatumba was submerged by the floodwaters.
© UNICEF/UNI569382/UNICEF Burundi
A UNICEF office in Bujumbura, Burundi in floodwaters.
The UNICEF office in Bujumbura – Burundi’s largest city – was also affected by the recent floods.
© UNICEF/UNI569385/UNICEF Burundi

UNICEF Australia Ambassador Adam Liaw, who visited Burundi with UNICEF last year, is raising much-needed funds for flood-affected communities in Burundi.  

"The kind and warm hospitality of the people I spent time with in Burundi made this one of the best, most heartwarming places I've been to. Six months later, some of the places I visited have been completely destroyed by flooding, in the wake of El Niño. The situation is only going to worsen, with rain expected to last until June."

Photo of Adam Liaw
Adam Liaw
UNICEF Australia Ambassador
Donate to Adam's Burundi fundraiser

Tanzania

Close to Burundi, Tanzania has faced its own share of adversity since April 2024 due to the same El Niño rains. Severe floods and landslides have swept across 18 regions, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. More than 160 lives have been lost, and over 200,000 people – including countless children – have been displaced.  

A grandmother holds her young granddaughter on a boat in a flooded waterway in Tanzania.
Thousands of families, including Bibi (Grandmother in Kiswahili) Pili Yusuf Ingi and her 5-year-old granddaughter, have been forced to leave their flood-ruined homes.
© UNICEF/UNI577093/Studio 19

UNICEF has been working alongside the government and other partners to reach children and families affected by the crisis, distributing mattresses, blankets, sleeping bags, and essential water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) supplies including water purification tablets, water tanks, buckets, and soap. These small comforts make a world of difference to those who have lost everything. 

A young girl washes her hands with a UNICEF bucket in an emergency camp in Tanzania.
Five-year-old Subira uses soap to wash her hands from a UNICEF-provided bucket at the emergency camp set up Tanzania.
© UNICEF/UNI577112/Studio 19

Thanks to the kindness of people like you, UNICEF provided flood-affected communities in Tanzania with educational supplies and recreation kits for learning in temporary shelters. These child-friendly spaces offer a safe environment where children can learn, play, and simply be kids. 

Children stand outside a UNICEF child-friendly tent in Tanzania. © UNICEF/UNI577079/Studio 19

Kenya

Communities in Kenya have also been submerged by floodwaters following torrential rains. At least 219 people have been killed while more than 200,000 people have been displaced by flooding across the country. More than half of displaced households are in Nairobi County, where urban informal settlements have borne the brunt of the disaster. 

A young boy gazes at his school, which has been submerged by floodwaters in Nairobi, Kenya.
A young boy gazes at his school, which has been submerged by floodwaters in Nairobi, Kenya.
© UNICEF/UNI572726/Odhiambo

The disaster in Kenya has had a huge impact on children’s education. Nearly 2,000 schools across the country were damaged or destroyed by the floods. Schools that were due to reopen at the end of April for the second term of 2024 have now been postponed indefinitely.  

A woman fetches water from a destroyed water pipe in an informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya.
A woman fetches water from a destroyed water pipe in an informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya.
© UNICEF/UNI572810/Odhiambo

The floods have also unleashed a new threat: cholera. This disease, transmitted by contaminated water or food, has hit children the hardest, with 47 per cent of the latest cases involving children aged between one and 10 years.  

A person carries building materials through floodwaters in an informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya.© UNICEF/UNI572743/Odhiambo

UNICEF and our partners have been supporting ongoing efforts to scale up the government-led flood response in Kenya by helping to distribute critical essentials including clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) supplies to flood-affected communities. 

Climate change is changing childhood. Together, we can protect children now and into the future 

As floods, storms, and other extreme weather events become more frequent and severe due to the climate crisis, it is children who will bear the brunt of the impact. 

"Distressingly, extreme weather is expected to be the norm in Eastern and Southern Africa in the years to come. Without sustainable responses, the future of children hangs in the balance. We need to take decisive action now to ensure that they not only survive but thrive in the challenging years ahead."

Eva Kadilli
UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa

Together, we are already making a difference. Thanks to the generosity of people like you, UNICEF is working tirelessly to protect children from the effects of climate change, delivering lifesaving support during climate emergencies and helping vulnerable communities become more resilient to climate shocks. 

Climate Emergency

Climate is the biggest threat facing the world's children today. Protect them in a changing climate by donating today.