Climate change is a contributing factor for the 152 million children under the age of 18 working around the world. In Angola, Ndjiole, 16, quit school to help his family’s livelihood, searching for water and vegetation in a dry landscape to keep his family's cattle alive.
A new report released by international aid agency World Vision says that millions of vulnerable children cannot afford for climate change talks in Glasgow to fail, given how many are already on the edge of famine-like conditions.
The report Climate Change, Hunger and Children’s Futures, studies the link between climate change and the risk of starvation, shows the long-term consequences of malnutrition on children and communities, and features what affected children say they need from global leaders.
“Children across the world tell us they experience the devastating impact of climate change every single day – and their warnings must be heard loud and clear by leaders at COP26,” says Michael Messenger, President and CEO of World Vision Canada.
“We hear heart-breaking stories of water becoming scarce and family livelihoods destroyed by recurring storms, flooding and drought, which can lead to life-threatening hunger and malnutrition. Children often face no choice but to drop out of school and are forced to work or marry by their parents who struggle to cope.
“Forty-one million people in 43 countries are currently on the very edge of famine and face starvation. Millions of children are at risk of extreme hunger. We urge leaders to listen to the children affected by climate change and to involve them as a central part of the solution as we work together to protect our planet’s resources.”
When it comes to extreme hunger, starvation and famine, climate change is a major threat multiplier along with economic instability (aggravated by COVID-19) and, the biggest cause, conflict. The number of people who are facing hunger crises has, for the last five years, risen steadily for the first time in decades. Assuming the same trajectory experienced over the last five years, World Vision predicts that more than 300 million people will be facing food insecurity by 2030.
“Conflict, COVID-19 and climate change are interacting to create new and worsening hunger hotspots and are reversing the gains families had made to escape poverty,” said Lindsay Gladding, Director of Fragile and Humanitarian Affairs at World Vision Canada.
“This is a children’s crisis: millions of children are one step away from starvation and facing the threat of famine. Urgent life-saving action is needed NOW to prevent a humanitarian hunger crisis in which tens of thousands of children could die. Famine has no place in the 21st century and is entirely preventable. This is a do or die moment for the world’s most vulnerable children.”