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UNICEF: Children In South Asian Nations At Extremely High Risk Of Climate Change Impacts

According to UNICEF, India is among four South Asian countries where children are most at risk of the impacts of climate change threatening their health.



According to a new UNICEF report, India is among four South Asian countries where children are most at risk of the impacts of climate change threatening their health, education and protection. The report, ‘The Climate Crisis Is a Child Rights Crisis: Introducing the Children’s Climate Risk Index [CCRI]’, is UNICEF’s first child-focused climate risk index. It ranked the countries based on children’s exposure to climate and environmental shocks such as cyclones and heatwaves, as well as their vulnerability to those shocks based on their access to essential services. 

As per the report, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and India are among four South Asian countries where children are at extremely high risk of the impacts of the climate crisis, with a ranking of 14th, 15th, 25th and 26th respectively. UNICEF has placed India as one of the 33 extremely high-risk countries with flooding and air pollution being the repeated environmental shocks leading to socio-economic adverse consequences for women and children. Approximately one billion children live in one of the 33 countries classified as “extremely high-risk”, including the four South Asian countries.

600mn Indians to face 'acute water shortages'

UNICEF has estimated that more than 600 million Indians will face ‘acute water shortages' in the coming years, while at the same time flash flooding is to increase significantly in the majority of India’s urban areas once the global temperature increase rises above 2 degrees Celsius. Twenty-one of the world’s 30 cities with the most polluted air in 2020 were in India, the report said.

Dr. Yasmin Ali Haque, UNICEF India Representative, said, “Climate change is a child rights crisis. The Children’s Climate Change Index data has pointed to the serious deprivations faced by children due to the intensifying effect that climate and environmental shocks have on existing inadequate access to essential services such as water and sanitation, healthcare and education”. 

She added, “Understanding where and how children are uniquely vulnerable to this crisis is crucial to building our resilience and effectively addressing climate change. UNICEF hopes the findings of the report will help prioritize action to protect those most at risk and to ensure that children inherit a livable planet”. 

According to the report, India’s neighbours Nepal is ranked 51st and Sri Lanka 61st. Bhutan is ranked 111th, with children at relatively lower risk. The report found that these South Asian children are in constant danger from riverine floods and air pollution, but also that investments in child health, nutrition, and education can make a significant difference to protect children from climate change. South Asian countries are among the most vulnerable globally to the impacts of climate change.

(Image: Unsplash)

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