Government of Canada

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada


Table of Contents

© ACDI-CIDA/Jean-François Leblanc


UNICEF works to improve the social and economic conditions of children by increasing children's access to health care, safe drinking water, food, and education; protecting children from violence and abuse; and providing emergency relief after disasters.

Canada has been a strong supporter of UNICEF since its establishment in 1946. UNICEF works in more than 150 developing countries.

Canada sits on the 36-member Executive Board of UNICEF, on a rotating basis.

Canada supports UNICEF's programs to improve children's lives. For example, in Afghanistan, Canada has worked closely with UNICEF to eradicate polio by providing millions of vaccines. In Colombia, work with UNICEF strengthened child protection. Canada also supports the Catalytic Initiative to Save a Million Lives—a multidonor initiative that works to reduce child deaths in Africa.

Thematic Focus

UNICEF's mandate aligns closely with two of Canada's priority themes for international development: securing the future of children and youth and increasing food security.

Children and youth

UNICEF's focus on health, education, and child protection makes it one of Canada's key partners in securing a future for children and youth and in improving child survival and maternal health, quality education, and the safety of children and youth.

Food security

UNICEF contributes to food security through its health and nutrition work and its substantial humanitarian programming. UNICEF's focus on delivering Vitamin A and other life-saving interventions, to children under the age of five, contributes to the strategy of meeting the nutrition needs of the most vulnerable. UNICEF also takes a lead role in providing safe drinking water.

Strategy for Working with UNICEF

Canada's international development work with UNICEF focusses on four strategic objectives:

  1. Helping UNICEF increase its reach to the most vulnerable and under-served children and youth by:
    • Further scaling-up high impact health and nutrition interventions, with the greatest impact on child survival and development
    • Reducing gender disparities and improving access to, participation in, and completion of quality basic education for the most vulnerable and under-served children
    • Reducing adolescent risks and vulnerability to HIV/AIDS by increasing access to and use of gender-sensitive prevention information, skills and services
    • Accelerating implementation of the Child Protection Strategy
    • Collecting and analysing more sex- and age-disaggregated data so that more vulnerable groups can be targeted
  2. Supporting UNICEF's efforts to work more effectively and strategically with partners and other United Nations agencies to advance the long-term sustainability of results for children and youth
  3. Helping to strengthen UNICEF's capacity to respond to humanitarian crises, for example by increasing technical expertise, field capacity and stockpiles and taking into account environmental factors during crises, especially those relating to natural disaster and water and sanitation
  4. Supporting UNICEF's more active role in United Nations reform efforts to make sure its programs are coherent, coordinated and focused, which includes:
    • Increasing joint programming efforts and improving national coordination mechanisms
    • Assessing and developing a strategic plan outlining a clear division of labour for the areas in which UNICEF works with other organizations
    • Supporting UNICEF's system-wide efforts to harmonize business practices


In 2011, with the support of Canada and other donors, UNICEF:

  • Responded to 292 humanitarian situations in 80 countries
  • Provided support to more than 11,600 children formerly associated with armed forces or groups to help reintegrate them into their families and communities
  • Helped provide anti-retroviral drugs, to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, to 48% of women in the world who are HIV positive
  • Helped strengthen child protection systems (the mechanisms to protect children from violence, exploitation and abuse) in more than 120 countries
  • Helped countries fight malnutrition and disease by providing vitamin A to 350 million children and vaccinating 10 million children against measles
  • Helped scale-up national social protection programs in 93 countries and ensured a more intensive focus on children in national development plans and budgets in 102 countries

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