Part two: Inter-agency coordinated appeals


People in need
7 million
People targeted
4.5 million
Requirements (US$)
762.5 million
Total population
28.7 million
Income level
Upper-middle income
INFORM Severity Index
4.1 / Very high
Consecutive appeals
2019 – 2021
People reached (2020)
4.0 million

Analysis of the context, crisis and needs

Seven consecutive years of economic contraction, episodes of hyperinflation, political polarization and institutional challenges have been key drivers of humanitarian needs in Venezuela. The economy is estimated to have contracted by 74 per cent since 2013, leading to decreased public spending and impacting the provision of essential services. People’s incomes, savings and purchasing power have also been severely affected.

At the start of 2020, the humanitarian situation appeared to be stabilizing. A series of liberalizing economic measures gave respite to the economy and helped rein-in inflation. Increasing remittances provided a lifeline for many and humanitarian response contributed to addressing some of the most acute needs. This trend has been reversed by COVID-19 and compounded by rising costs of food and essential non-food items, declining remittances and lower global oil prices. Hardship for vulnerable people has increased and new needs have emerged.

Food security and nutrition remain a key concern. In 2019, a WFP assessment estimated 2.3 million Venezuelans to be severely food insecure and an additional 7 million moderately food insecure. The rate of undernourishment has increased from 2.5 per cent in 2010-2012 to 31.4 per cent in 2017-2019. According to Government data, severe acute malnutrition rates among children under 5 were 4 per cent in 2019, with an additional 10 per cent at risk.

After the first COVID-19 cases were confirmed, the authorities quickly implemented rigorous social quarantine measures, which slowed down the spread of the virus. After a peak in September, the number of cases has stabilized and is managed within existing capacity and humanitarian support. Limited access to safe water, hygiene and PPE and low PCR testing capacity remain a challenge despite recent improvements.

Prior to the pandemic, the Venezuelan health system was already under strain. Important gains made last year to control communicable diseases like malaria and measles are at risk as epidemiological surveillance and vaccinations have been challenging due to COVID-19. Patients are at risk as health facilities continue to struggle with ensuring adequate water supply and sanitation services. As resources are re-assigned to COVID-19 response, other essential health services have been impacted.

The education system also remains affected with an estimated 850,000 children having dropped out of school in 2019, and a similar number at risk of dropping out. School closures, to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, have affected 6.8 million students.

Violence, including gender-based violence, has increased during the lockdown as some people have been confined in situations of domestic violence. Children and adolescents have been particularly affected, facing protection risks and high levels of stress and anxiety, with limited mental health and psychosocial support services available.

Around 130,000 Venezuelan migrants have returned from neighboring countries since mid-March - most due to losing their livelihoods in the context of COVID-19. Returnees need to quarantine in Government-run temporary shelters, many of which require support in providing adequate shelter and basic services. An increasing number of Venezuelans have been crossing into neighboring countries through irregular routes since the easing of quarantine measures in the region. Migrants face high protection risks and have reported blackmail and extortion along these routes.

Projected situation in 2021 and beyond

The humanitarian situation in Venezuela is expected to continue throughout 2021 as the impact of COVID-19 persists. The country’s GDP is expected to have contracted by 26 per cent in 2020, likely resulting in increased poverty rates and further reduction in essential services. Food security and nutrition are expected to remain a key issue due to decreased purchasing power, as well local food production challenges.


Evolution of needs and requirements (2019 - 2021)

A pattern of mixed migration flows is likely to continue with more Venezuelans returning and leaving the country in 2021. If borders remain closed, people will continue using irregular routes and be exposed to protection risks including a heightened risk of trafficking, sexual violence and exploitation, especially for women and children.

Response priorities in 2021

Between January and September 2020, humanitarian partners reached an estimated 3.7 million people with some form of assistance – although this does not mean all their humanitarian needs were covered. This includes some 2.4 million people that have received COVID-19 related support, mostly in health, WASH, protection and education.

In 2021, the humanitarian community in Venezuela will focus on: providing life-saving assistance with critical health, nutrition, food security, protection and WASH interventions; improving living standards by strengthening livelihoods, maintaining safe and effective access to essential goods and services and ensuring safe and dignified shelters for people on the move; prevention, mitigation and response to protection risks, including those related to GBV, associated with human mobility and abuse, exploitation and neglect of children
and adolescents. Differentiated needs by age and gender, as well as those of indigenous communities and persons with disabilities will be considered.

Despite the achievements, some partners – particularly NGOs - continue to face access challenges like politicization of humanitarian aid, fuel shortages, COVID-19 related travel restrictions, as well as administrative constraints on the entry of organizations, personnel and supplies. Advocacy has recently resulted in progress in addressing some of these challenges, including the adoption of a resolution enabling international NGOs to register in the country.

The 2020 Venezuela HRP was one of the world’s lowest funded. Ensuring a response commensurate with the scale of needs will only be possible with urgent additional funding.

Further reading


  1. ECLAC, Economic Survey of Latin America and the Caribbean 2020: Main conditioning factors of fiscal and monetary policies in the post-COVID-19 era, October 2020
  2. The Food Security Information Network Global Report on Food Crises 2020 included Venezuela among the 10 worst food crises in the world.
  3. FAO, State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World Report 2020. The Government does not agree with these findings.
  4. An assessment of WASH conditions in 17 hospitals conducted by PAHO/WHO in 2019 found that 88.3 per cent of the assessed hospitals present a high risk that hygiene and sanitary conditions pose a health risk to patients and staff; the rest face a medium risk. The findings were supported by internal WASH cluster monitoring of 89 health facilities.
  5. Ministry of Education data.
  6. Ministry of Education estimate based on administrative data.
  7. ECLAC, Economic Survey of Latin America and the Caribbean 2020: Main conditioning factors of fiscal and monetary policies in the post-COVID-19 era, October 2020
  8. Figures for People in need, People targeted and Requirements are estimates.