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Annual Report 2020

Tomorrow is now

Save the Children was founded on the belief that every child deserves a better future. Yet around the world, many children today are still denied that chance simply because of who they are and where they’re from.

We have a bold ambition: a world in which all children survive, have the chance to learn and are protected from abuse, neglect and exploitation.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused untold damage to children’s health, wellbeing and education. But significant societal disruption can also offer an opportunity to come together and reshape the future for children.


Our work for children in 2020

In the UK and around the world, we make sure children are safe and healthy. We support them to learn, grow and become whoever they want to be.

44.9 MILLION CHILDREN and 38.3 million adults were directly supported by the Save the Children movement, working across 117 countries in 2020.


29.5 MILLION CHILDREN AND ADULTS supported across 87 countries by our movement's COVID-19 response in 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused untold damage to children’s health, wellbeing and education. The Save the Children movement’s Protect a Generation global fightback against the pandemic supports children across four key pillars:

  • Mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on child survival
  • Helping children learn, stay safe and return to school
  • Supporting family survival and food security through safety nets
  • Keeping children safe in their homes and communities.

In 2020, Save the Children’s COVID-19 response supported more than 29 million children and adults across 87 countries, including treating nearly 400,000 children under five for acute malnutrition, and helping 3.4 million children with distance learning. In the UK we supported 10,000 of the most vulnerable children with emergency grants, including early-learning packs, vouchers, toys and essential household furniture like children’s beds.

We conducted the world’s largest study on the impact of COVID-19 on children and our Life Under Lockdown report captures children’s experience of the pandemic and lockdown in the UK.

To find out more about our response to COVID-19, including how we kept overstretched health systems up and running and harnessed hygiene to fight the spread of infection, click here.

27.9 MILLION CHILDREN reached through our movement's health and nutrition programmes in 2020.

Child mortality rates are now at the lowest they have ever been.

Despite this dramatic progress, more than 5 million under-fives continue to die every year – and most from illnesses that are entirely preventable. And the Coronavirus pandemic threatens to stall the progress we’ve made. We are demanding a relentless focus on the health and nutrition of the poorest and most marginalised children. In 2020, we and our partners:

  • delivered life-saving healthcare and nutrition to 9 million children in humanitarian emergencies
  • tackled pneumonia – the single largest infectious killer of young children worldwide – by helping to supply children in hospital with oxygen, make life-saving vaccines more widely available, and convene global health experts and decision-makers to find new ways of fighting the disease
  • fought undernutrition – by warning the world of the additional child malnutrition deaths the coronavirus pandemic threatens to cause and rolling out a new method of malnutrition detection in Kenya.

To find out more about how we have helped children survive in 2020, click here.

12 MILLION CHILDREN reached through our movement's education programmes in 2020.

Education empowers children to rise above poverty, realise their potential and build a better future. The effects ripple outwards – supporting families, communities and nations.

In 2019, more children were in school than ever before, but progress towards equitable education is still too slow. Even before the coronavirus pandemic – which has exacerbated inequalities – more than 200 million children were projected to be out of school in 2030.

In 2020, we worked to tackle the global education crisis, providing children in the UK and around the world with adapted learning support during lockdowns and school closures. We worked with communities, partners and governments to:

  • make sure children living in conflicts and emergencies – including refugee children – can get the education they tell us is their number one priority
  • fight for girls’ right to an education and tackle obstacles – such as child marriage – that stand in their way
  • improve learning for children during their crucial early years – around the world and among the UK’s poorest communities – when it can make the biggest difference.

To find out more about how we have helped children survive in 2020, click here.

3.1 MILLION CHILDREN reached through our movement's child protection programmes in 2020.

Right now, millions of children are caught up in conflicts they played no part in creating. Their rights are frequently violated with total impunity. The protection of children in conflict is one of the defining challenges of our time.

Millions of children around the world are exposed to other forms of violence too: sexual exploitation, severe punishments at school and at home, violence and abuse, and attacks because of a disability or their ethnicity or identity.

In 2020, we worked with our partners to help children on the frontline of some of the world’s worst conflicts and in contexts where children are at risk of harm:

  • pushing for peace in Yemen, the repatriation of children trapped in Syria and justice for the persecuted Rohingya communities of Myanmar
  • providing expert psychological support for Palestinian children who’ve endured Israeli military detention and those left emotionally scarred by the massive explosion in Beirut
  • training community volunteers in India to protect children at high-risk of abuse.

To find out more about how we have helped children stay safe in 2020, click here.

4.5 MILLION CHILDREN reached through our movement's child poverty programmes in 2020.

Poverty affects children disproportionately and globally, one child in five lives in extreme poverty, on less than $1.90 a day. We help support their families to ensure they receive the basic health care and nutrition they need for a healthy start in life, and the education they need to flourish.

In 2020, we worked with our partners to:

  • publish a new report, setting out an evidence-based case for universal child benefits in building a fairer, more inclusive and resilient future
  • supported local government in Nigeria with social protection policies, a cash transfer programme for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, and helped secure the release of state funding to tackle child malnutrition using our programme model
  • stepped up our efforts to push for better data to track global inequalities and establish the Covid-19 live tracker to monitor the effect of the pandemic on children.

To find out more about how we have helped protect children from poverty in 2020, click here.


Even before 2020, 30% of children in the UK were living in poverty. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, we revamped our services in some of the poorest parts of the country to make sure children stuck at home could keep learning. We rapidly developed an emergency response plan and campaigned across the UK to help families get the support they needed to make it through the crisis. Read more about our response to COVID-19 in the UK here.

Save the Children works with children and communities across the UK, with staff, partners, branches and community fundraising groups, shops and regional offices throughout the country. We work closely with the communities we serve.

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