Climate Change and the African Child

Children and youth represent one-third of the world’s population, with 2.2 billion under the age of 18, 637 million under 5 years old, and over 1.2 billion between 10 and 19 years old. The Convention on the Rights of the Child states that a child’s rights to life, survival and development should be protected and that actions should be taken in the best interest of the child, in a non-discriminatory way, and with respect for her or his views.

Climate change, environmental degradation, and unsustainable energy choices affect their rights. Climate change adaptation guarantees these rights by protecting children from environment-related risks now and in the future and preparing them to effectively and sustainably safeguard the environment upon which their well-being depends

But what Is Climate Adaptation?

Climate Change Adaptation is the adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli (variability, extremes, and changes) or their effects, to moderate harm or exploits beneficial opportunities.

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and fulfilling the Convention on the Rights of the Child is impossible without considering the impact of global climate change, implementing environmental protection, and transitioning to sustainable energy.

Key climate risks in Africa are derived from water stress, droughts, and floods. In the event of drought, children are often the ones to supply water to the household.

Direct and indirect impacts of climate change on Children

Climate change causes changes in temperature and precipitation, which have direct and indirect impacts on children.

An increase in temperature leads to an increased incidence of extreme events such as (cyclones, tornadoes, typhoons, forest and grassland fires, and heatwaves). This gives room for mortality from sudden-onset disasters, leading to an increase in Child mortality and mobility.

Temperature change also leads to Changes in habitat (desertification coastal inundation, inland flooding, upland warming, and increased topsoil erosion), ecosystem (species extinction), and agricultural yield (decline in tropical areas). These lead to an increase in mortality and morbidity from non-communicable causes (cardio-respiratory heatstroke), extension and changes in communicable disease patterns (malaria, dengue fever, water born infections, diarrhea), and a decline in food security and income, causing an increase in child mortality and morbidity, increase in child malnutrition, increase in Child poverty and more children out of school.

The impacts of climate change such as drought cause the scramble for resources. Children are the ones to supply the household with water, which jeopardizes their security

Changes in precipitation cause more frequent and server drought, and more intense rainfall, leading to water stress and flooding respectively. Water stress and flooding further forced the population to migrate/move and also affect agricultural yield, causing loss of assets and livelihoods, and an increase in conflict for resources.

It also causes an increase in child malnutrition, an increase in child poverty, a decrease in child inequality, and a reduction in child protection.

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