Children are at risk of climate change related hazards in the middle East and North Africa

Egypt scores highest in the region in children’s exposure to climate and environmental shocks

30 October 2022
three children look at the camera in Fayoum in South Egypt
Basmala, Jana, Mahmoud and Abd El-Salam are siblings living in a village in Fayoum (South Egypt). The families residing in the village just got one of the most basic needs fulfilled in 2022: access to safe drinkable water at home. Egypt is facing an annual water deficit of around seven billion cubic metres and the country could run out of water by 2025, and climate change is a key part of the problem.

AMMAN, 30 October 2022 – Today, UNICEF released the Children’s Climate Risk Index (CCRI) in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region with a special focus on Egypt. The Index highlights the vulnerability of children living in many countries in the region to the impacts of climate change.

Ahead of Egypt hosting the UN climate change conference COP27 in November, the report focuses on the impact of climate change on children and families in Egypt, compared to the rest of the region. The report reveals that in relation to ‘exposure to climate and environmental shocks,[1]’ Egypt is in the ‘extremely high risk’ category, with an index score of 7.3 (out of 10) – the highest in the region. Egypt is highly exposed to climate and environmental shocks: for instance, an estimated 5.3 million children are exposed to heatwaves. Average temperatures in Egypt have increased by 0.53 degree Celsius per decade over the past 30 years. Egypt ranks in the top three countries in the region on four hazards out of seven.

In the Middle East and North Africa, four countries have children who face high to very high risks of climate change[2]. In 2021, this meant that around 86 million children (0-17 years old) and over 34 million youths (15 – 24 years old) face these risks[3]. These countries are likely to have over 103 million children and 53.5 million adolescents by 2050[4], who, without urgent mitigation and adaptation, will be left more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. 

The report also reveals that Egypt scores 3 in relation to ‘vulnerability to climate and environmental shocks,’ which falls into the ‘low-medium risk’ category. This indicates that the availability and quality of essential services for children, such as water, sanitation, health care, nutrition and education, among others, are generally higher than the regional average, decreasing the vulnerability of children in Egypt. Children with adequate access to basic services are not only less vulnerable but are likely to be more resilient and adaptive in their response to climate change.

In the face of the challenges of climate change, countries in the region have responded with different measures. Taking Egypt as an example, the country has reinforced its commitments to tackle climate change and mitigate its consequences, both domestically and internationally. It has also, over the years, invested in the wellbeing of children, with a focus on the most vulnerable families and the most deprived geographical areas.

While the impacts of the climate crisis in the region are deeply concerning, there is room for action and optimism. Urgent action is needed to protect children and young people by adapting critical social services to climate change, prepare them with climate education and ensuring that voices are heard and acted on, and prioritizing them in climate funding, policies and resource allocations.


Notes to Editors:

The global Children's Climate Risk Index, which was released in 2021, is a composite index based on a multi-shock model that captures the exposure of children to multiple climate and environmental shocks and stress. The index covers the various sectors related to the well-being of children, focusing on aspects that can contribute to child deprivation in the context of climate-related and environmental shocks and stresses.

The Index is calculated based on a set of indicators across two pillars:

  • Pillar 1 that measures the exposure of children to climate and environmental hazards, shocks and stresses.
  • Pillar 2 that captures child vulnerability to climate and environmental shocks and stresses.

[1] Pillar 1 of the Children’s Climate Risk Index. The other pillar captures child vulnerability to climate and environmental shocks and stresses.

[2] Egypt, Djibouti, Yemen and Sudan

[3] UNDESA, World Population Prospects, 2022

[4] UNICEF, The coldest year of the rest of their lives, 2022

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Additional resources

A girl drinks water from a tap
Aya, 12, drinks water from a tap in her house in a slum in the Ezbet Khairalla neighbourhood in Cairo, Egypt.


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