Baku, November 26, AZERTAC
More than half a billion children live in areas with extremely high flood occurrence and 160 million in high drought severity zones, leaving them highly exposed to the impacts of climate change, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in a report released ahead of the 21st United Nations climate change conference, known as COP21.
According to the agency, of the 530 million children in the flood-prone zones, some 300 million live in countries where more than half the population lives in poverty – on less than $3.10 a day. Of those living in high drought severity areas, 50 million are in countries where more than half the population lives in poverty.
“The sheer numbers underline the urgency of acting now,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake, in a press release.
“Today’s children are the least responsible for climate change, but they, and their children, are the ones who will live with its consequences. And, as is so often the case, disadvantaged communities face the gravest threat,” he continued.
Climate change means more droughts, floods, heatwaves and other severe weather conditions. UNICEF is underlining that these events can cause death and devastation, and can also contribute to the increased spread of major killers of children, such as malnutrition, malaria and diarrhoea. This can reportedly create a vicious circle according to the agency – a child deprived of adequate water and sanitation before a crisis will be more affected by a flood, drought, or severe storm, less likely to recover quickly, and at even greater risk when faced with a subsequent crisis.
The report, Unless we act now: The impact of climate change on children, finds that the vast majority of the children living in areas at extremely high risk of floods are in Asia, and the majority of those in areas at risk of drought are in Africa.