Among the key considerations are:
- Service delivery must continue during and after disasters
- Investments must ensure that resources and infrastructure are resilient to disasters
- Children’s perspectives and needs must be included in policy, initiatives
UNICEF’s agenda for climate change takes into account the situation faced by children of different ages during disasters. UNICEF supports data systems for designing programmes suitable to changing needs. Safe water, hygiene and gender-responsive facilities are promoted in the form of improved drinking water facilities and separate latrines in schools.
Awareness actions and messages on climate change and DRR are spread within communities with the help of local and religious leaders, community influencers, ward level committees and children themselves. Below are some of UNICEF’s interventions for specific age groups:
Infants, young children and mothers
UNICEF supports inclusion of climate resilience plans in existing health response systems during heatwaves, diseases spreading to new areas and disaster causalities.
UNICEF advocates for incorporation of emergency preparedness in the curriculum for public health professionals. It also works with the government to include the issue of climate change into school curriculum and learning packages for teachers.
In health facilities, UNICEF advocates for the use of solar power. UNICEF support is used to maintain emergency stock in areas vulnerable to disaster.
To raise health awareness in disaster-prone districts, community radio is used to spread vital information, for example about hypertension during pregnancy, a complication effecting many mothers who are exposed to soil or water salinity.
UNICEF works to support the system for making HIV medication available to mothers, children, adolescents in a disaster situation.
The protection needs of children during emergencies are a part of UNICEF training provided to parents through Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres.
Child care services must continue during and after disasters. As part of that effort, UNICEF introduces policies and frameworks for Education in Emergencies at district level with partners.
UNICEF promotes linkages with agriculture, livestock, and fisheries to ensure access to safe and nutritious foods during disasters. It also advocates for innovations and development of crop that are climate resilient.
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities are often destroyed or overrun by polluted water during disasters. UNICEF conducts research and works with the government to make sure WASH structures are climate resilient. UNICEF is also working to scale up use of the MAR system and other climate-resilient water technologies for creating fresh drinking water in water logged, salinity-infected and drought prone areas.
Children of primary-school age
UNICEF supports pilot initiatives to prevent student dropout and school disruption after disasters.
In the event of climate emergencies, response should follow a National Education Strategy so that education can continue in disaster-prone districts. For preparedness and response, UNICEF works to improve coordination at the district level.
UNICEF is working to support more and more children who are out of school because of climate disasters by improving access to both formal and non-formal education.
UNICEF provides direct support to increase the number of facilities for safe drinking water in primary schools and inform students on the methods for adapting to climate change. As part of the Little Doctor Program, primary school-goers are provided climate change health education.
Protection services are provided to children with single parents, mostly destitute women. UNICEF is working to scale up this service provided to children before, during and after a crisis.
Adolescents as agents of change
UNICEF is working to increase opportunity of Life Skills Education in high schools, especially in areas vulnerable to climate change.
UNICEF supports pilot initiatives to provide secondary education through alternative delivery, such as evening school and weekend school. Such initiatives are also aimed at reducing the number of children who enter the labour market following emergencies.
Life Skills Education teaches adolescents methods for staying safe during the risky conditions that follow disasters, such as trafficking, migration to urban centres, living in disaster shelter and sexual violence. UNICEF also works to generate evidence for linking of climate change and HIV vulnerabilities.
Adolescent girls are vulnerable to child marriage, loss of education and other exploitations following disasters. UNICEF supports training for teachers and communities to emphasise the importance of girls’ education and additional support for continuing high school. Mobile teams and child-friendly spaces supported by UNICEF help adolescents become more capable in reporting abuse, violence or neglect in times of emergency.
UNICEF aims to have the many adolescents and radio-listener groups engaged in climate-change related initiatives. Drowning is a significant cause of death for children. As part of community engagement for DRR, UNICEF supports safe swim programmes for adolescents.
UNICEF trains frontline workers on inter-personal communication and ensures supply of mega phones, wind-up and solar radios in towns and municipalities.
Policy and awareness
Psychosocial and recreational kits funded by UNICEF are already placed in areas vulnerable to disasters. These kits ensure that children in these areas are able to access at least three components of the minimum packages of services in times of emergency.
For urban areas, UNICEF is working to develop climate change and DRR strategies that are responsive to the needs of children. As part of this initiative, UNICEF trains government officials on child-centred adaptation and school safety.
UNICEF also supports plans and budgets for setting up stronger disaster management mechanisms, reflecting the priorities of marginalised communities.
UNICEF is advocating the inclusion of child friendly preparedness, response, protection and risk mitigation for disaster and climate change as part of its review of the Disaster Act 2010.