- African leaders meet today in Nairobi to discuss mitigating and adapting to the climate crisis.
- NGO Save the Children says in the Horn of Africa, Kenyan children suffer more than others in the region, plagued most by poverty and climate change,#
At least 67 per cent of children in Kenya are affected, followed by Ethiopia (66 per cent) and Somalia (45 per cent), Save the Children said, as African leaders meet today in Nairobi to discuss mitigating the climate crisis.
The figures come from Save the Children’s report, ‘Born into the climate crisis: Why we must act now to secure children’s rights’, which calculated the lifetime exposure to a range of extreme climate-related events on children born in 2020 compared to people born in 1960.
The report found Kenyan children born in 2020 will on average face 4.6 times more droughts during their lives than their grandparents.
“Children are especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change exacerbated by geographical factors (exposure to extreme events), social problems (access to education, violence and conflict) and emotional factors marking their childhood,” STC’s Delfhin Mugo, who presented the findings in Nairobi.
For children facing at least one extreme climate event per year, Ethiopia ranks top at 91 per cent, followed by Kenya at 87 per cent and 69 per cent in Somalia.
Climate researchers at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) contributed to the report.
STC also analysed data for the entire Sub-Saharan Africa region, which showed at least 1.85 million children were displaced within their countries by climate shocks at the end of 2022, compared to one million children left displaced by similar crises in 2021.
Some of these children were displaced multiple times, while others only once, but all remained displaced from home at the end of the year, living in camps with extended family, or in other temporary arrangements.
In Somalia, five failed rainy seasons forced about 6.6 million people, or 39 per cent of the population, into critical levels of hunger, and led to the second-highest number of internal displacements at 1.1 million people.
The number of new disaster-related internal displacements throughout the year across Sub-Saharan Africa in 2022 was also three times higher than the previous year, with 7.4 million new internal displacements during 2022 compared to 2.6 million in 2021.
This figure counts the times people were displaced – sometimes multiple times for one individual – even if they were able to return home by the end of the year.
This is the highest annual number of new displacements from climate disasters ever reported for the region, as the impacts of consecutive climate shocks have begun to sink in and both the resilience of the land and the coping mechanisms of communities have become exhausted.
These figures expose the stark reality that the rights of children across the region are being eroded at an alarming rate by the impacts of the climate crisis, Save the Children said.
African countries, however, have contributed the least to the crisis, representing the smallest share of global greenhouse gas emissions of all the world’s regions.
With the El Niño weather pattern taking hold, causing even more extreme weather events and pushing up global temperatures further, it is likely this figure is only increasing further this year, child rights agency STC said.
Kijala Shako, head of advocacy, communications, campaigns and media for STC East and Southern Africa Regional Office, said,
“These figures are enough to bring anyone to a standstill and hopefully will spur leaders at Africa Climate Week to wake up to the experiences of children across the region, acknowledge that the climate crisis is having a disastrous impact on their lives, and act urgently to factor in children’s needs and rights into the much-needed response.”
In the Horn of Africa, El Niño is historically associated with above-average rain during the October to December rainy season.
Heavy rain after a prolonged drought is not always a blessing.
As evidenced by rains in recent months, rains on the parched ground following almost three years of drought bring further risks of flooding, displacement, food shortages and disease, STC said.