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Children and women hardest hit by climate change

© UNICEF Nepal/2012
UNICEF Nepal representative Ms Hanaa Singer greets Mr. Apa Sherpa duting the media meet held in Jumla

The impact of climate change could fall disproportionately on women and children, more so in the remote mountains of Nepal, was the point of discussion at the media meet held in Jumla, in the mid western hills of Nepal on 6th April. UNICEF Nepal representative Ms. Hanaa Singer, along with Participants of the Climate Smart Celebrity Trek , Mr. Apa Sherpa, a 21-time Everesteer and Mr. Dawa Steven Sherpa, a 2-time Everesteer, met with media and local authorities and discussed how the changed climate impacts the livelihoods of the families, which in turn adversely affect the children's nutrition, health, education, access to water and also their emotional well-being.

Apa  & Dawa Sherpa started walking the 1700 km Great Himalayan Trail in mid-January, and still have a month long trek ahead of them. The media meet is one of the many that they have had along the trail where they are joined by dignitaries- local as well as international, to promote tourism and to highlight the impact of climate change in the Himalayan foothills.

“Children's experience of climate change and disasters are different from those of adults, yet this is rarely considered. During disasters like floods, droughts, landslides and glacial lake outbursts – everyone suffers. The poor, in their vulnerable situation, suffer more than the others. But the ones who are hit the hardest, across all social brackets, are the children,” stressed Ms. Singer.

© UNICEF Nepal/2012
Mr. Apa Sherpa, 21-times Everesteer speaks during the media meet in Jumla

“Rise in temperatures, extreme weather conditions, floods and droughts will exacerbate the already fragile hygiene and nutrition status of the families living in these remote villages, “ remarked Ms. Singer. “Under such conditions, the already malnourished children, with their underdeveloped immune systems, will buckle under the burden of disease and death that accompanies unsanitary living conditions and food deprivation. The little ones are the first to face the brunt of climate change.”

"I lost all my farmlands to glacial lake outburst flood back in 1985. Yet, because of the opportunity provided by tourism and mountaineering in the Everest region, I could make a living and help my children cope with the adversities,” said Apa Sherpa. "I have been delivering a simple message to my fellow Nepali’s living on the Great Himalaya Trail that by promotion of sustainable tourism they would be better placed to adapt to Climate Change."

The participants concurred that children are not passive bystanders and should never be treated simply as helpless victims. They stressed that since the impacts of climate change on the lives of children are real, policies and decisions made today will set the tone for years to come.
“Children have the capacity to actively participate in mitigating and responding to climate change effects,” added Ms. Singer. “Disaster risk reduction should be mainstreamed in the education system and children empowered with the knowledge and skills to be used as effective communicators of risk and drivers of change in their communities.  This way they can achieve a lot to build a climate-resilient world for themselves and others.”

The Great Himalaya Trail – Climate Smart Celebrity Trek (GHT-CSCT) is organised by Himalayan Climate Initiative endorsed by the Climate Change Council headed by the Prime Minister of Nepal in coordination with the Government of Nepal and other national and international agencies.



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