The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Monday, disclosed that over 110 million Nigerian children are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, which presents a major threat to their overall wellbeing.
According to UNICEF, Nigeria is the second most vulnerable country worldwide in terms of children who are at risk of extreme weather conditions such as rising temperatures, air pollution, water scarcity, food shortages, which could negatively impact their developing immune systems, behavioural characteristics, and developmental needs if not appropriately addressed.
The Representative of UNICEF in Nigeria, Cristian Munduate shared this in a statement on Monday, November 20 after an inter-school quiz competition. The event was held in Gombe State as one of the activities commemorating World Children’s Day 2023.
The Statement read:
“Nigeria celebrated World Children’s Day, focusing on child rights amidst the escalating climate crisis. Events across the country saw children from various regions, including Abuja, Kano, Lagos, Enugu, Sokoto, and Maiduguri, leading discussions on the significant impact of climate change on their lives and futures.
“The discussions covered various critical issues, including the direct health impacts of climate change on children, such as increased physical dangers, waterborne diseases, and malnutrition. The event also shed light on the alarming rate of child displacement due to environmental disasters, with 650,000 children displaced from 2016 to 2021 due to floods.
“Nigeria, as the second most vulnerable country worldwide in terms of children’s exposure to climate change, faces severe challenges. Over 110 million Nigerian children are at risk, having confronted the harsh realities of rising temperatures, flooding, drought, and severe storms.
Munduate in the statement., emphasised that the World Children’s Day celebration was important, as it served as a means of amplifying the voices of children, as their input is necessary in building a better future.
“This celebration is a crucial platform for our children, the most affected by climate change, to voice their concerns and experiences. Their input is essential in shaping our collective path towards a sustainable and resilient future,” she said.
World Children’s Day was established in 1954 by UNICEF, and is commemorated every year on November 20. The day puts the spotlight on key issues affecting children, such as child rights, child abuse, and climate change, among others.
The theme for this year’s celebration is: “For Every Child, Every Right”.
Director General – National Council on Climate Change, Dr. Salisu Dahiru urged the Nigerian Authorities to take urgent and proactive measures to tackle the worsening climate crisis which continues to affect its large population. He said implementation of the National Climate Change Action Plan would be a step in the right direction.
Dr. Dahiru said: “As one of the countries that suffers the greatest exposure to adverse climate impacts, Nigeria’s response to climate change must be swift and holistic, accounting for the needs of vulnerable people, including children and women, at the decision-making level, as well as in the implementation of the National Climate Change Action Plan”.
Last week, Nigeria’s Vice President Kashim Shettima assured Nigerians that the country’s President Bola Tinubu was working actively to improve the lives of vulnerable Nigerians. He said this during a visit from the Presidential Committee on Flood Mitigation, Adaptation, Preparedness and Response who submitted a comprehensive report to him at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
“Climate change is real and the existential threat it poses is glaring at us every day, from the extreme events being witnessed across the globe to the devastating climate facing Africa. Africa is disproportionately impacted and bringing it home to Nigeria, we have been witnessing drought, flood, etc. The saying on the climate crisis is that it is either too much (floods), too little (drought) or too polluted.
“We are all gathered to find a solution for the “too much” scenario that is flooding. Flood events have, in the past, affected communities with devastating impacts on livelihoods, people and the environment with loss of lives witnessed in some cases such as the last flood witnessed in 2022″.