Climate change poses a new threat child survival and development. Over the next 10 years it is estimated that climate change and resulting weather extremes will affect around 175 million children a year. Chronic crises and sudden disasters disproportionately affect children. Children are at greater risk of injury and especially susceptible to disease when water, sanitation and food security are threatened.
Water is at the heart of climate change impact.
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 diarrhea, which already kills over 800 children under five every day.
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. 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.
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.
UNICEF’s work in climate change and WASH
UNICEF’s WASH programme is taking an innovative approach to climate change – developing climate proof infrastructure, preparing communities for disasters, and empowering children to advocate for their future.
UNICEF is working to gather evidence at the country and community level to identify WASH hazards, perform risk assessments and integrate adaptive action into existing programmes.
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.
UNICEF seeks improve partnerships with local research organisations, other UN agencies, such as United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and with national government agencies with crosscutting responsibilities.
(Originally published by Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Unicef, © 2016)