Climate Change will worsen child malnutrition

Climate Change will worsen child malnutrition

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published Published on Dec 11, 2009   modified Modified on Dec 14, 2021


A new report by Save the Children, a global child rights organization, says that climate change is the biggest global health threat to children in the 21st century. Titled Feeling the Heat: Child Survival in a Changing Climate (2009), published in advance of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009, the report examines the vulnerabilities regarding climate change and identifies the adaptation measures that can be taken to benefit children. (See the link below)

One of the largest groups to be affected will be children under the age of five, says the report. It is estimated that by 2050, there will be 25 million more malnourished children as a result of climate change. Climate change will make it much harder for poor families to give their children a nutritious diet.

The report finds that climate change will cause millions of children to be at increased risk from diseases, under-nutrition, water scarcity, disasters, and the collapse of public services and infrastructure. One third of the total global childhood disease burden is attributable to changeable factors in food, soil, water and air. These diseases and conditions are predicted to worsen with climate change. As many as 175 million children per year will be hit hardest as natural disasters increase over the next decade. Climate change will accelerate the spread of malaria in various parts of the world, the report conjectures.

The report predicts that in some parts of Africa, cases of diarrhea could increase by as much as 10%. In addition, outbreaks of water-borne diseases such as cholera will become more prevalent. An additional 2 billion people will be at risk of dengue transmission by 2085. The report notes with regret that despite all this, the link between climate change and child survival struggles to command public and political attention.
The report predicts that in 2080 there could be 1.3 billion hungry people in the world, 550 million of whom could be hungry as a result of climate change, and 480 million of whom will be living in Africa. Children in the developing world will be hit hardest.

Weather-related disasters are on the rise; over the past two decades, the number of disasters has doubled from 200 a year in the 1980s to more than 400 a year presently. These disasters affect the lives of around 250 million people each year, approximately half of whom are children. As climate change combines with existing trends such as land degradation, decline of ecosystems and population growth, the number of people affected by natural disasters is likely to increase by 320%.

Further readings:

Feeling the Heat: Child Survival in a Changing Climate (2009), Save the Children, please click here to access  

Climate change to kill a quarter million children, 4 November, 2009,

Climate change to have deadly effect on children, 5 November, 2009,

Save the Children warns that climate change is a global emergency for children,

'Climate change will hit 175m kids every year' by Himanshi Dhawan, The Times of India, 7 December, 2009,

A global emergency for children: NGO, The Hindu, 5 November, 2009,

Climate change biggest health threat to children this century, Reuters, 5 November, 2009,

Climate change may kill 400,000 children every year, 30 November, 2009,

Save the Children Calls on World Leaders in Copenhagen to Protect Children from Increased Climate-Related Natural Disasters, 4 December, 2009,

Save the Children Warns that Climate Change Is a Global Emergency for Children, 4 November, 2009,

Climate change to kill a quarter million children, 6 November, 2009,


Image Courtesy: Feeling the Heat: Child Survival in a Changing Climate (2009), Save the Children

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