UN says children in Africa at high risk of impacts of climate change

  • World
  • Saturday, 02 Sep 2023

NAIROBI, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) -- Children in Africa are among the most at risk of the impacts of climate change, with only 2.4 percent of the global climate funding targeting the youngest, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said in a new report launched on Friday in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.

The report, released ahead of the Africa Climate Summit to be held in Nairobi on Sept. 4-6, said children are woefully neglected by the key climate financing flows required to help them adapt, survive, and respond to the climate crisis.

Lieke van de Wiel, UNICEF deputy director for eastern and southern Africa, said it is clear that the youngest members of African society are bearing the brunt of the harsh effects of climate change. "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 toward this group, so they are equipped to face a lifetime of climate-induced disruptions," van de Wiel said.

The report titled "Time to Act: African Children in the Climate Change Spotlight" said children in 48 out of 49 African countries assessed are categorized as at high or extremely high risk of the impacts of climate change. The analysis 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.

The report said children living in the Central African Republic, Chad, Nigeria, Guinea, Somalia, and Guinea-Bissau are the most at risk. The report examined how multilateral climate funds (MCF) are targeting their resources.

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

UNICEF, the International Labour Organization (ILO), and the UN Environment Program (UNEP) are working together with young people, governments, employers' and workers' organizations, and the private sector to design and implement the Green Jobs for Youth Pact. The pact aims to develop one million new green jobs, transform 1 million existing jobs, and help 10,000 young green entrepreneurs start their businesses by 2030.

"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," said Rose Mwebaza, regional director for Africa for UNEP.

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.

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