The United Nations Children’s Fund has said children will feel the impact of droughts, floods and severe weather events in the coming years, warning government to be decisive in taking steps to halt the effect of climate change.
The alert, which came in a report by UNICEF on Tuesday, added that “extreme heat will become a growing and a regular problem in many parts of the world,” among other things.
The agency also noted in the report that the consequences may be crushing on families, saying that many families may not be able to cope as a result of other stressors such as poverty, loss of a family member and HIV/AIDS.
“Families hit by one crisis may be able to absorb the shock provided the crisis is not too severe. However, when families are hit by two, three or four shocks consecutively, their coping mechanisms become exhausted. Cumulative shocks make it difficult not only to recover, but also to survive, as documented in recent studies,” it said.
In the report, titled, ‘Unless We Act Now’, the Executive Director, UNICEF, Anthony Lake, said climate change would worsen existing inequalities among the 2.3 billion children across the world, imploring policy makers to take measures in cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
“Unless we act forcefully to stem the climate crisis now, the danger will only escalate. It is a prospect so painful to imagine that many people would rather not think about it. We have an opportunity to tackle this crisis before it’s too late. That means taking decisive action to cut greenhouse gas emissions in order to slow, and ultimately stop, the advance of climate change,” he said.
The agency also added that increased floods and droughts would affect more children, advising parents and guardians to keep their children hydrated at all times.
“Extreme climate event, including floods, drought, storms or heatwaves, will have negative consequences on children, even, if they just occur once. Climate change will increase the frequency of extreme climate events. Globally, natural disasters are occurring, almost five times as frequently as 40 years.
“Today’s children will live longer than most of the people who read this report. The impacts of climate change are only just beginning, and will likely continue to worsen during the lifetime of today’s children and future generations. Extreme heat does not only affect children directly, but also affects them through a variety of heat-related illnesses. Protecting children requires the right clothing, shelter and access to clean drinking water so that they can stay hydrated. ”
The report also said young children breathe twice the rate of adults, warning that the rate of respiratory infections such as asthma and pneumonia, among others, will be higher than adults. “Household pollution leads to 4.3million deaths annually, and 13 per cent of these are deaths of children under five years.”