Climate Change: UNICEF Predicts Grim Future for Nigerian Children, Five Other African Countries

The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has revealed that children in Nigeria, Chad, Somalia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, and the Central African Republic are the most at risk of the impacts of climate change.

UNICEF further disclosed that children in 48 out of 49 African countries are highly vulnerable to climate-induced disasters with deleterious consequences.

This is contained in a report released by UNICEF preparatory to the African Climate Summit in Nairobi, Kenya.

The report titled: Time to Act: African Children in the Climate Change Spotlight argues that despite the risks, only 2.4% of global climate finance targets children.

“Children in Africa are among the most at risk of the impacts of climate change but are woefully neglected by the key climate financing flows required to help them adapt, survive and respond to the crisis, ” the report notes.

The report assesses countries based on children’s exposure to climate and environmental shocks, such as cyclones and heatwaves, as well as their vulnerability to those shocks, based on their access to essential services.

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It said, “Children living in the Central African Republic, Chad, Nigeria, Guinea, Somalia and Guinea-Bissau are the most at risk.”

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“Just 2.4 per cent of this key global climate funding can be classified as supporting child-responsive activities, with an average value of just $71 million per year. If the target group is increased to include youth, the figure rises to just 6.6 per cent of total MCF spending.

“It is clear that the youngest members of African society are bearing the brunt of the harsh effects of climate change,” Lieke van de Wiel, Deputy Director, UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa region, said. “They are the least able to cope, due to physiological vulnerability and poor access to essential social services. We need to see a stronger focus of funding towards this group, so they are equipped to face a lifetime of climate-induced disruptions.

“Children are more vulnerable than adults to the effects of climate and environmental shocks and stresses. 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.

“Despite substantial progress made by virtually all countries in the provision of essential services, persistent challenges contribute to an increased vulnerability for children, including limited access to good quality health and nutrition services, a lack of safe water, sanitation and hygiene, limited access to quality education and high levels of poverty,” it added.

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The report further reveals a strong correlation between countries with poor rankings on health, nutrition, and WASH services and those ranking high or extremely high on the Children’s Climate Risk Index, highlighting how vulnerable these children are to the impacts of climate change.

UNICEF and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) are working together on an increasing number of projects that demonstrate how communities across Africa can become more resilient as they adapt to the impacts of a changing climate.

Rose Mwebaza, Regional Director, UNEP, Africa said: “Young people have done the least to change the climate and, in Africa, are on the receiving end of its worst effects. We are working to support countries to adapt and build resilience in a rapidly changing climate through nature-based solutions, as well as investing in young people with the green skills and mindsets to support this urgent transition. But to see results, we must see a radical increase in investment in a sustainable future for young Africans.”

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