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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

Climate change puts almost every child at risk

2020 was the hottest year on record. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are the highest they have been in at least 3.5 million years.

In many parts of the world, people are facing multiple climate-related impacts, including severe drought and flooding, air pollution and water scarcity.

This leaves children vulnerable to malnutrition and disease. Approximately 1 billion children are at an extremely high risk of the impacts of the climate crisis.

According to UNICEF, children in fragile contexts are among the most at risk of climate change. It's affecting their access to food, clean air and water, healthcare and education.

Almost every child on earth is exposed to at least one of these climate and environmental hazards. Without urgent action, this number will go up.

The EU continues to support UNICEF in providing for vulnerable children's critical needs.

2 silhoutes of people in the snow
Afghanistan: On a heavily polluted morning, a mother walks with her daughter across a snow-covered area of Kabul. Children are at increased risk of respiratory infections including pneumonia, from the burning of fossil fuels and other contaminants.
© UNICEF. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.
2 children riding a bike in a dusty atmosphere
Bangladesh: Children riding a bicycle on a severely polluted road in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Air pollution in Dhaka is contributing to health complications like asthma, dust allergy, heart disease and lung cancer.
© UNICEF. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.
A father with his child on his shoulders, standing in a flooded street
Cambodia: A man and his son wade through floodwaters on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. In 2020, the country was hit by some of the worst floods it has experienced in almost a decade, affecting the livelihoods of 900,000 people.
© UNICEF. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.
Ki Mariam with a big bag full of collected plastics
Cote d’Ivoire: Ki Mariam is a plastic waste collector in Abidjan. Over the next 30 years, the world may produce 4 times more plastic than ever before. She sells the plastic to a startup that turns it into construction materials for new schools.
© UNICEF. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.
Children on a flooded street after the water is gone
Democratic Republic of the Congo: When heavy rains caused the Mutahyo River in to overflow in 2020, several villages were flooded. Our partner UNICEF supported the Government with a safe school reopening campaign that reached 3.6 million children.
© UNICEF. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.
Students Ame, Paula, Ratu Luke and Semi Nataba, in the school library
Fiji: Students Ame, Paula, Ratu Luke and Semi Nataba, in the school library destroyed by Tropical Cyclone Yasa in Fiji in January 2021. EU partner UNICEF provided tents and basic supplies to help children study again and regain a sense of normalcy.
© UNICEF. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.
A family inside what is left of their house
Guatemala: Hurricanes ETA and IOTA caused landslides and flooding affecting nearly 1.9 million people. Our partner UNICEF distributed 1,900 hygiene kits and supplied water tanks and water quality tests for the affected families.
© UNICEF. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.
A woman with 3 children walking in a field
Mozambique: A woman carrying a child, makes her way to a relocation centre through a flooded area. Families moved there seeking aid and shelter from Tropical Cyclone Eloise that brought powerful winds, torrential rain and severe flooding in January 2021
© UNICEF. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.
Aid workers distributing bags and buckets
South Sudan: Due to heavy seasonal rains and flooding in 2020, our partner UNICEF focused on making clean water and sanitation, nutrition and immunisation accessible, as well as providing family tracing and reunification services.
© UNICEF. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.
Women and children walk to collect water from a well
Zambia: Women and children walk to collect water from a well in the Gwembe Valley. Since 2018, the area has been deeply affected by drought that has left 2.3 million Zambians in severe food insecurity.
© UNICEF. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.
4 girls walking through the fields
Zimbabwe: The eastern parts of the country suffered the combined effects of Cyclone Idai in 2019 and severe drought in 2020. UNICEF supported preventative treatment to over 650,000 children and women at risk of malnutrition.
© UNICEF. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.

Text and photos by UNICEF.
Publication date: 21/04/2022