Climate change likely to affect 175 mn children every year: UNICEF

at 4:45 pm
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

New Delhi (NVI): Climate change poses a threat to child survival and development, with around 175 million children estimated to be affected every year due to the weather extremes over the next 10 years, according to the UNICEF.

Pointing out that chronic crises and sudden disasters disproportionately affect children, it says that children are at greater risk of injury and especially susceptible to disease when water, sanitation and food security are threatened.

It notes that water and climate change are inextricably linked, as the effects of climate change are first felt through water — through droughts, floods and storms.

“These disasters can destroy water supplies and toilet, or leaving behind contaminated water and putting the lives of millions of children at risk. Without clean water, children are at risk of diseases such as diarrhoea, which already kills over 800 children under five every day,” the UNICEF says.

Many of the regions most at risk of droughts and floods already have very low levels of access to water and sanitation, and the 60 million children living in these areas are extremely vulnerable, it says.

“To tackle climate change, we need to increase equitable access to sustainable water sources and improved sanitation, so that in times of crisis and times of stability, every child is given a chance to survive and grow,” it says.

Quoting the new WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) report, it says that 2.1 billion people worldwide lack access to safe, readily available water at home and 4.4 billion lack safely managed sanitation.

“Clean water, basic toilets and good hygiene practices are essential for the survival and development of children. Today, there are around 2.4 billion people who do not use improved sanitation, and 663 million who do not have access to improved water sources,” it says.

“Without these basic needs, the lives of millions of children are at risk. For children under five, water- and sanitation-related diseases are one of the leading causes of death. Every day, over 800 children die from preventable diseases caused by poor water, and a lack of sanitation and hygiene,” the global body says.

UNICEF’s Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programme is already using innovative solutions, such as solar power water pumps and rainwater harvesting, to reduce the impact of climate change on children and help protect their future.

WASH team works in over 100 countries worldwide to improve water and sanitation services, as well as basic hygiene practices.

 Last year, UNICEF’s efforts provided nearly 14 million people with clean water and over 11 million with basic toilets.

“We continue to promote behavior changes toward water conservation and support the creation of environmentally enabling environments. Using new technologies to map water sources, UNICEF is able to drill more effectively for water and adapt to the impacts of climate change,” the UNICEF says.