More than 27 million children are in danger whereas devastating floods break world records
The number of children affected by floods in Chad, Gambia, Pakistan and Northeastern Bangladesh reaches its highest level in over 30 years
SHARM EL SHEIKH, Egypt/GENEVA/NEW YORK, 8 November, 2022 – While COP27 is taking place in Egypt, UNICEF warns that this year has brought devastating floods to at least 27.7 million children in 27 countries across the world.
A large majority of the 27.7 million children* affected by the floods in 2022 are among the most vulnerable and are exposed to a multitude of threats, including death by drowning, epidemics, lack of drinking water, malnutrition, disruption of learning and violence.
"This year, we are witnessing flooding on an unprecedented scale around the world along with an explosion of threats to children," said Paloma Escudero, Head of the UNICEF Delegation to COP27. "The climate crisis is here. In many places, the floods are the worst we've seen in a generation, or even several generations. Our children are already experiencing sufferings on a scale that their parents have never seen."
The consequences of floods are often more deadly for children than the extreme weather events that cause the floods. In 2022, fooding contributed to the spread of the main child mortality factors, such as malnutrition, malaria, cholera and diarrhoea:
• In Pakistan, more than one in nine children under five admitted to health facilities in flood-affected areas of Sindh and Balochistan suffered from severe acute malnutrition.
• In Chad, 465,030 hectares of agricultural land have been destroyed, exacerbating an already very serious food insecurity situation.
• In Malawi, torrential rains and flooding caused by Tropical Storm Ana in January 2022 caused extensive damage to water supply and sanitation systems, creating the conditions for a cholera outbreak. The epidemic claimed the lives of 203 people, including 28 children. To date, 1,631 children have been infected with cholera.
• Combined with other climatic shocks and conflicts, the floods have made that the number of children in South Sudan experiencing high levels of food insecurity is expected to exceed the rates observed during the 2013 and 2016 conflicts. Moreover, the United Nations recently warned that some communities are at risk of starvation if humanitarian assistance is not maintained and climate adaptation measures are not strengthened.
In addition to threatening the lives of millions of children, the floods have disrupted essential services and displaced countless families:
• Recent floods in Pakistan damaged or destroyed nearly 27,000 school buildings, forcing 2 million children to miss school.
• In South Sudan, 95 UNICEF-supported nutrition sites were affected by flooding, which disrupts the delivery of malnutrition prevention services and life-saving care to 92,000 children.
• An estimated 840,000 children were displaced because of floods in Nigeria in recent months.
• Heavy rains and flooding in Yemen caused flooding that led to extensive damage to shelters in displacement sites. Up to 73,854 households have been affected, and 24,000 households have been displaced.
Madagascar is not directly affected by floods, but the country remains vulnerable to all natural disasters, including cyclones, flooding, as well as the Covid-19 epidemic which has worsened the country's socio-economic situation, fragile economy and extreme poverty. As one of the countries with the lowest greenhouse gas emissions, Madagascar is nevertheless one of the top ten in the world where children are most at risk of suffering the effects of climate change. The lack of rains and the prolonged drought in the South of Madagascar have left nearly 1.5 million people in a situation of food insecurity, half of whom are children. In 2022, it is estimated that 500,000 children under the age of 5 will suffer from acute malnutrition, and 110,000 will suffer from severe malnutrition.
"COP27 is an opportunity to outline a credible roadmap with clear milestones for financing climate adaptation and solutions for loss and damage," said Paloma Escudero. "Young people in the hardest-hit places on the planet are drowning in climate inaction. Enough is enough. Lives are at stake – children must act now."
In addition to exerting pressure on governments and large companies to quickly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, UNICEF urges leaders to take immediate action to protect children from climate devastation by adapting the critical social services they rely on. Adaptation measures, such as creating drought-and flood-resilient water, health and education systems will save lives.
Last year, developed countries agreed to double adaptation funding to $40 billion per year by 2025. At COP27, they must put forward a credible roadmap with clear milestones on how this will be achieved, as a step to delivering at least $300 billion per year for adaptation by 2030. At least half of climate adaptation funding must make up half of all climate finance.
UNICEF is also urging the parties to find solutions to help those who will face climate loss and damage beyond what communities can adapt to. UNICEF calls upon governments to bridge the financing gap to face these irreversible changes for children.
AT COP27, UNICEF CALLS ON ALL PARTIES TO:
1. PREVENT. Revisit their national climate plans to drastically and urgently cut gas emissions to avert climate catastrophe.
2. PROTECT. Ensure clear adaptation action that protects every child from the accelerating impacts of climate change through the Global Inventory and the Global Adaptation Goal.
3. PREPARE. Promote climate change education and meaningful participation to prepare children and youth through the Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) action plan.
4. PRIORITIZE children and young people by accelerating climate finance investment in climate-resilient social services that reach children most at risk, and unlock progress on loss and damage.
5. Engage in child-friendly climate action by aligning with and operationalizing the Declaration on Children, Young People and Climate Action.
UNICEF's immediate humanitarian response in flood-affected countries is broad and covers all sectors: health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), child protection and education. However, a lack of funding has hampered the response in many countries. For example, the funding gap for the humanitarian response in Pakistan currently amounts to 85 per cent.
UNICEF is endeavouring to enhance the resilience of communities and health infrastructure to allow them to withstand disaster-related hazards, and to increasingly link our work on humanitarian response and climate adaptation in the longer-term.
A propos d'UNICEF
L’UNICEF travaille dans les endroits les plus inhospitaliers du monde pour atteindre les enfants les plus défavorisés. Dans 190 pays et territoires, nous travaillons pour chaque enfant, partout, afin de construire un monde meilleur pour tous.