Children to suffer brunt of climate change

Children to suffer brunt

of climate change

by Yasmin Reema

Ten-year-old Shondesh has seen his home drown under water at least thrice and have moved from one char to another every time with his parents. In Gaibandha, Shondesh helps his parents with the little bit of farming that is available during the good seasons until there is another flood sweeping away their home. But that also goes to say that Shondesh has no education, there is no school in the small char habitat. In a four-member family of which his father is the breadwinner, Shondesh’s future unfortunately will be that of the scores of underprivileged and malnourished children in Bangladesh. A new study by a group of scientists at Stockholm in September revealed that climate change will largely affect children in the 10 most vulnerable countries including Bangladesh, which together has 620 million children below 18. Children will suffer the brunt in the forms of health problems, malnutrition and migration, says the study. According to Unicef, 25 million more children will suffer malnourishment because of climate change and a further 100 million will be suffer food insecurity, where they and their families are on the verge of running out of stock. In the 10 countries, children among the 150-200 million people feared to become homeless because of climate change will suffer more than adults because of their relative lack of resources and higher vulnerability to disease. Heat waves will become more intense and frequent under climate change, which will trigger heatstroke among babies and small children. Children find it difficult to regulate body heat. According to Jana Udyag – an environmental organisation based in Chittagong – nearly 46 per cent children in the rural parts of Bangladesh help their families by working in agriculture, looking after cattle and household work. This limits the prospects of the country – of 160-million people – to move up the economic ladder. Children therefore, remain vulnerable to malnutrition, lack of education and health related diseases. ‘Pure water is not available at the time of flood. Children become ill from different types of diseases like diarrhea, dengue and malaria,’ says Dr Helal Uddin Ahmed, an assistant professor of National Institute of Mental Health. The effects on children can be realised from the devastation of cyclone Aila in 2009. The cyclone destroyed 275 schools and partially damaged 1942 schools in Bangladesh. Reports stated that nearly 40 lakh people suffered in ‘Aila’ and children had to leave there homes with their parents to take shelter on embankments of rivers. The laws of Bangladesh which are for preventing natural calamity and climate change is not sufficient for saving children. It is important to emphasise on the management of protection taken at the time of natural calamity. These are to respond immediately to protect lives and wealth by involving local government to build infrastructure, training, advocacy, and awareness etc. The National Work Plan for Protecting Natural Calamity 2010 does not have any recommendation to protect children from the effects of climatic change. Unicef argues that, although children are more vulnerable to the effects of global warming, they have been largely left out of the debate. ‘We are hurtling towards a future where the gains being made for the world’s children are threatened and their health, wellbeing, livelihoods and survival are compromised … despite being the least responsible for the causes,’ David Bull, Unicef’s UK executive director was quoted by the Guardian. ‘We need to listen to them.’ The Guardian report states that children born last year will come of age in 2030, by which time the effects of climate change in the form of an increase in droughts, floods and storms are likely to be more in evidence. Climate change experts suggest an integrated effort involving economic and infrastructural preparedness to protect children, so that, in the countries are prepared to deal with the aftershocks of natural disasters. Bangladesh is considered the most vulnerable country exposed to the adverse effects of climate change in the foreseeable future. The country has been appreciated for being the most resilient to disasters. As the world prepares to meet at the 19th Conference of Parties on November 22 in Poland, disbursement of green climate fund will be crucial for policymakers to press and allocate on the child protection.

Leave a Reply