Climate change is about much more than polar bears – it is about the lives of millions of children around the world who are at risk of climate related disasters – such as storms, floods and droughts. On World Water Day, we kicked off a virtual #ClimateChain campaign, with people around the world standing untied for action and protecting the futures of children.
- The effects of climate change are first felt through water – through droughts, floods or storms. When these disasters hit, they can wipe out entire water supplies or leave them contaminated, risking the lives of millions of children.
- Almost 60 million children live in areas which already have low levels of access to water and are at risk of drought or flood.
- At times of drought, many families can’t afford to migrate and must rely on contaminated water supplies. Nearly 160 million children live in areas at high risk of drought.
- Over 300 million children live in areas at high risk of flooding – with half or more of the population already living on less than USD$3.10 a day. Floodwaters can contaminate water supplies causing widespread disease and exacerbating poverty.
- Without clean water, children are at risk of diseases such as diarrhoea. Over 800 children die every day from diarrhoea caused by to unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene.
While this paints a fairly grim picture, there is also good news. UNICEF’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programme is already using innovative solutions, such as solar power water pumps and rain water harvesting, to reduce the impact of climate change on children and help protect their future.
The worst impacts of climate change are not inevitable. Improving equitable access to safe, sustainable and climate resilient water sources will help protect the most vulnerable children before, during and after climate disasters.
Philippa Lysaght is a WASH Communications Specialist in Public Advocacy, Division of Communication, UNICEF.