Climate Change: Impacts on women and children

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Globally, the number of reported weather-related natural disasters has more than tripled since the 1960s. UN figures indicate that 80% of people displaced by climate change are women and children.

Every year, these disasters result in over 60 000 deaths, mainly in developing countries. Women and children are known to be the most vulnerable to climate change impacts. Climate change otherwise known as global warming is the rise in temperature leading to severe weather conditions that propel fire outbreak in
places like Australia and the Amazon forest. In Nigeria, temperatures of 80C was recorded for the first time in January 2020 in some parts of the country.

 These extreme weather events have brought unimaginable hardship and unbearable living conditions on citizens especially women and
children. Climate change effect such as flood that affected places like Benue, Jigawa and Kogi state, has left  80% of it’s victims displaced and average victims had to stay at the IDP camps for several month depending on government and CSO’s.

The  effect of Climate change is no respecter of World powers, as United State of America is not left out when the Gulf Coast region was affected by Hurricane Katrina, displacing many with over eighty three percent (83% ) poor single mothers. Who were susceptible to sexual harassment and leading to loss of income,  which paved room for increased criminal tendency for their growing children.

An Oxfam report found that surviving men outnumbered women by almost
3:1 in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and India when disaster struck as a result of climate change effect. It’s argued in mainstream media in Nigeria, that women and children in IDP camps are sexually molested in exchange for food and drugs leading to widespread of HIV in camps in Borno state.

Studies also revealed that women and children are more prone to health hazard due to climate
change in places where carbon monoxide are inhaled to prepared dishes and unclean water that are consumed.

This is because climate change effect has made access to water more difficult. In 2015, 2.1 billion people did not have access to safely managed water services (UNICEF), this has caused many family especially in rural communities to drink unclean water compromising safe hygiene practice  and
increasing the risk of diarrhoeal disease, which has killed over 500 000 children aged under 5 years, every year.  Women and children are also prone to malaria endemic as they have less access to health care system.

Unfortunately, the most affected is the girl-child. Who spent most ample time in search of water
according to UNICEF, preventing them quality time meant for school. In extreme cases, water scarcity leads to drought and famine known to be the major trigger of land crises between farmers and herders in places like Taraba, Benue, Ekiti, and Osun state.

Nevertheless, this growing problem can be mitigated if all hands would be on deck as time is a major factor. There is need to raise more awareness on climate change and actions to be taken to reduce the effect such as forest conservation, practice of water harvesting and kicking against deforestation. Also government and private partnership must be intensified in order to make clean water accessible to communities in need of water. In conclusion, climate change effect is most felt by women and children and the only way out is for leaders in all sectors starting from every household joining force with government and CSO’s to reduce the effect of climate change. As their action or inaction affects the vulnerable in our society and country at large.

Written by: Rafiat Sule