Smiles are contagious, and every smile that lights up a child’s face is precious. We want to share 5 stories of hope from 2023; milestones that gave children around the world reasons to smile, successes that were made possible through donor support.  

A breakthrough in vaccines  

Nearly every minute, a child in Africa under the age of five dies of malaria. Now a breakthrough malaria vaccine, a result of 35 years of research and development, will protect millions of children against this mosquito-borne disease – and UNICEF will lead the way in ensuring children are vaccinated against it.  

Over the next two years, 18 million doses of the vaccine, to be delivered through UNICEF support, will potentially save the lives of thousands each year. 

UNICEF Canada ambassador John Nsabimana at UNICEF Supply Division

Progress in addressing childhood malnutrition 

A child gets her arm measure by a doctor using a MUAC band.
Three-year-old Mashkat has her mid-upper arm circumference measured to screen her for signs of malnutrition at a UNICEF-supported health facility in Ahangaran, Afghanistan. [© UNICEF/UNI472133/Karimi]

Malnutrition remains one of the leading causes of death and disease among children. However, a recent report showed that we have made real progress over the last two decades in increasing food and nutrition security for the world’s children.  

Since 2000, the global prevalence of stunting, a condition where children are too short for their age due to malnutrition, has declined by a third. While the report also shared how conflict, climate change and increasing inequality are compromising food and nutrition systems, this progress shows that we can create change through the right interventions and investments in stronger, more resilient nutrition systems for children and women.  

 A sustainable solution for water-scarce communities  

Solar-powered water systems for sustainable water solutions

The climate crisis, plunging water tables and increased droughts have made access to water, particularly through pumps, increasingly precarious.  

With UNICEF support, there’s now a sustainable solution to this problem, powered by solar energy. Solar-powered water systems are being set up in communities around the world that have ripple effects from schools to health centres. Having access to reliable sources of water means safe drinking water, better sanitation and hygiene, better retention rates in school, lower levels of diseases and so much more.  

Canadians have also stepped up to help through UNICEF Canada’s annual Water for Life Gala this year, where the Calgary community raised $1.26 million to help support children and communities with access to water through the installation of water systems!  

Delivering hope during emergencies  

A girl hugs her mother.
Edguimar, 10, says goodbye to a loved one before boarding a bus with her family to continue their migratory route to the United States of America, after leaving a temporary rest center in El Paraíso, Honduras. [© UNICEF/UNI480128]

2023 was a year of many crises – from natural disasters to war and conflict. During many emergencies, including the earthquakes in Syria and Türkiye, conflicts in Sudan and Gaza, UNICEF’s work has helped provide access to health, nutrition, education, water and sanitation systems and services. Donor support ensures that UNICEF can be there before an emergency strikes and stay for as long as we’re needed. 

In just the first six months of 2023, UNICEF Canada donors helped- 

  • Vaccinate over 26 million children against measles 
  • Almost 3 million children receive treatment for severe wasting, the most dangerous form of malnutrition 
  • Close to 14 million children access formal and early-years learning in emergency settings 
  • 23 million people receive safe water for drinking and personal hygiene 

Strengthening youth advocacy in Canada   

A man takes a selfie with a peace sign, behind him over a dozen people are standing to be in the selfie.
UNICEF Canada Ambassador and actor Simu Liu takes a selfie with the youth participants of the Youth Advocacy Summit in Ottawa in November.

UNICEF's work in Canada focuses on advocacy to ensure youth voices are elevated and included in policies that impact them. This year we marked National Child Day and World Children’s Day in Ottawa by bringing together young people from across the country to discuss their rights and futures as part of a Youth Advocacy Summit. 

The Summit marked the conclusion of the 2023 edition of our Youth Advocacy Program, where youth from across the country receive training, support, and a platform to advocate on the issues they care about. 

Over three days, youth advocates came together with policymakers, government officials and UNICEF Canada Ambassadors to discuss key issues on 2SLGBTQ+ rights, child labour, education, healthcare and mental health. 

Our work for children continues  

And so, as we wrap up the year, one thing remains clear to us. We will never give up when it comes to defending children’s rights and safeguarding their lives and futures – and we know our supporters, like many of you, are right there with us. For every child.