The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in a new report, has bemoaned the devastating effects of climate change on children, noting that children in Africa are among the most at risk from climate change impacts but are being woefully deprived of the financing necessary to help them adapt, survive and respond to the crisis.
The report indicated that children in 48 out of 49 African countries assessed were found to be at high or extremely high risk of the impacts of climate change, based on their exposure and vulnerability to cyclones, heatwaves and other climate and environmental shocks, and access to essential services.
Those living in the Central African Republic, Chad, Nigeria, Guinea, Somalia and Guinea-Bissau are most at risk.
The report was released as leaders prepare to meet for the African Climate Summit, which is scheduled to take place next week in Nairobi, Kenya.
Step Up Funding
Despite the risks African children face, the report found only 2.4% of global climate funding targets children, with an average value of just US$71 million per year.
Lieke van de Wiel, UNICEF deputy Director for the Eastern and Southern Africa Region said that “It is clear that the youngest members of African society are bearing the brunt of the harsh effects of climate change”.
“We need to see a stronger focusing of funding towards this group, so they are equipped to face a lifetime of climate-induced disruptions,”Lieke van de Wiel said.
Challenges and solutions
Children are more vulnerable than adults to the effects of climate change, UNICEF explained. They are physically less able to withstand and survive hazards such as floods, droughts, storms and heatwaves and are physiologically more vulnerable to toxic substances such as lead and other forms of pollution, the report added.
Furthermore, the report noted that challenges in ensuring access to quality services in areas such as health and nutrition; water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and education, heighten their vulnerability.
At the same time, children and young people are instrumental to long-term change and sustainability, so they must be part of climate solutions, including policy and financing, the report said.
Meanwhile, UNICEF and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) are working together on an increasing number of projects that show how communities across Africa can become more climate resilient.
A programme run by UNICEF and partners in the Sahel region focused on action across five sectors including health, nutrition, water, education and protection services.
Communities were empowered to mitigate the effects of climate-related weather events and manage residual risks through participatory planning and comprehensive service delivery.
Furthermore, at least three million vulnerable people, mostly children, now have access to essential services, especially during climate-induced disasters.
In East Africa, a UNEP programme in Tanzania is working to reduce the damaging impact of sea-level rise on infrastructure through investing in seawalls, relocating boreholes, restoring mangrove forests and building rainwater harvesting systems.
As a result, coastal communities are now better able to withstand rising sea-levels. The programme has also led to health improvements for the population through access to safe, clean water.
African Climate Summit
At the African Climate Summit, taking place from next week, leaders from across the continent will highlight the need to push for increased investment in climate action.
Top UN officials including Secretary-General António Guterres and the UNEP Executive Director, Inger Andersen, will attend alongside over 20 Heads of State and Government and other world leaders, who are expected.
It is taking place during Africa Climate Week, an annual event that brings together representatives from governments, businesses, international organizations and civil society.
The Summit represents an unprecedented opportunity to address the increasing impacts of climate change on “human mobility” in Africa, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said.
Last year, more than 7.5 million internal disaster displacements were registered on the continent. IOM cited a 2021 report which warned that without efficient and sustained climate action, up to 105 million people in Africa could become internal migrants by the end of this year.
“We have officially entered the era of climate migration,” said IOM Director General-Elect Amy Pope, stressing the need for urgent solutions.
At the Africa Climate Summit, IOM will officiate over the signing of the ‘Continental, Kampala Ministerial Declaration on Migration Environment and Climate Change’, known as KDMECC-AFRICA.