When you hear the words "climate change," what comes to mind? Perhaps it's a melting glacier or drought (like the one pictured above).
When we hear climate change, it's impossible not to think of children. We see that children are hit the hardest by extreme climate events, rising food prices, food scarcity, clean water shortages and the destruction of schools and homes.
Then there are the things you don't always see - like how climate change affects child nutrition or community resilience.
March 2012 in Niger, under-five mortality rates remain among the highest in the world, the result of preventable or treatable conditions, including malnutrition. The country is one of eight in the Sahel region – also including Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and the northern parts of Cameroon, Nigeria and Senegal – facing a nutrition crisis that now affects over 10 million people. Unless reached with appropriate treatment and prevention programmes, more than 1 million under-five children are at risk of dying from nutrition-related illnesses. The current crisis is the result of repeated drought-related food shortages, from which people have insufficient time to recover before being again affected. In turn, these shocks are exacerbated by chronic stunting, high rates of poverty and illiteracy and inadequate social infrastructure, including for basic child and maternal care. In Niger, over 331,000 under-five children are at risk of becoming severely malnourished, while cases of moderate acute malnutrition are expected to exceed 689,000. Over 5.4 million people – some 35 per cent of the country’s population – remain food insecure. Stunting prevalence is above 50 per cent; over 62 per cent of the population lives in poverty, and the adult literacy rate is a low 20 per cent – only 12.3 per cent for women. UNICEF requires US$120 million to fund its Sahel emergency response in 2012, of which only 32 per cent has been received to date. The European Union (EU) is one of the largest international donors to UNICEF nutrition programmes in the Sahel and in other regions.
In Niger, working with the Government and other partners, UNICEF is currently assisting over 37,000 under-five children suffering from severe acute malnutrition, with plans to reach 394,000. Support includes the provision of ready-to-use therapeutic food (a high-protein, high-energy peanut-based packaged paste for malnourished children that does not require cooking or handling). Plans are also underway to provide blanket feeding support for an additional 530,000 children aged 6–23 months and for 97,000 pregnant or lactating women during the ‘lean season’ – from April through October – when food scarcity is greatest. UNICEF is also assisting other health, water, sanitation and hygiene, education and child protection initiatives.
Let's protect Mother Earth on behalf of children around the world.