Not less than 113,730,000 Nigerian children, representing 51 per cent of the 223 million people in Nigeria, are disproportionately affected by climate change, a report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has revealed.
The report titled: “Climate Landscape Analysis for Children in Nigeria”, highlighted key climate risks to children and provides an overview of the multi-sectoral climate mitigation and adaptation actions that UNICEF intends to implement in Nigeria from 2023–2027.
Findings of the report revealed that children account for 51 per cent of the 223 million people in Nigeria and are disproportionately affected by climate change. They are also often the first and most severely impacted by climate shocks due to their dependence on others.
To this end, UNICEF organised events across the country where children from various regions, including Abuja, Kano, Lagos, Enugu, Sokoto, and Maiduguri, led discussions on the significant impact of climate change on their lives and futures, at the celebration of the World Children’s Day in Nigeria.
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.
For instance, the panel discussion on climate action for children held at the UNICEF Lagos office to mark this World Children Day had in attendance students from across Lagos schools, other young people, private sector organizations and the Lagos state Commissioner for Youth and Social Development. Children and young people moderated the panel discussion.
One of the children who spoke with LEADERSHIP in Lagos, Aghogho Ojoh, averred that climate-related issues have affected the development of children in Nigeria. For instance, 650,000 children were displaced from 2016 to 2021 due to floods, Ojoh stated, even as she called on behavioral change to tackle the menace in the country.
Director general, National Council on Climate Change, Dr. Salisu 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.”
UNICEF representative in Nigeria, Cristian Munduate added, “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.”
The Lagos field office, UNICEF, Celine Lafoucriere, told LEADERSHIP that, children are non-self-sufficient and unable to make their own decisions, even as she disclosed that they are more susceptible to disease and malnutrition.
“Children are more likely to be exposed to diseases, especially during flooding. When the combination of drought, flooding, desertification, poverty and sociocultural factors are added in, which are all increasing and often lead to migration, conflict and displacement, children’s safety and access to water, health, education, food security and well-being are severely impeded,” she lamented.
She however called on all to tackle climate related issues, to make the environment more safer for children to thrive.
In his response, the Lagos state commissioner, Ministry of Youth and Social Development, Mr. Mobolaji Ogunlende assured that the Lagos state government, under the leadership of the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, is committed to supporting initiatives that promote wellbeing of children in the state.
Under the Transportation and Traffic Management; Health and Environment; Education and Technology; (T.H.E.M.E.S plus), agenda of the state government, Ogunlende said the state government is prioritizing environment to make it more clean, green and safer for all children.
He disclosed that the state government is planning to bring back environmental sanitation initiative, where residents are expected to thoroughly clean their environment at least, once a week, while advocating for collective efforts to tackle climate related issues.