Sunday, November 20, 2011

Climate change set to exacerbate child vulnerability in South Africa

SABC (South Africa): Climate change will exacerbate the existing vulnerabilities of children in South Africa, unless mitigation and adaptation strategies are child-sensitive and timeously implemented. ‘Exploring the Impact of Climate Change on Children in South Africa’ study made public on Saturday highlights the likely impact of climate change on children’s health, education, nutrition, safety and access to adequate housing and sanitation in South Africa – both directly and indirectly.

The study presents a body of evidence that South Africa’s climate is already changing, with increases in average annual temperatures and slight decreases in rainfall in recent decades. In future all regions of the country are projected to be warmer, particularly inland. According to scientific models rainfall variability countrywide will increase, with consequences for the incidence of flooding and drought.

The burden of dealing with the impact of these changes in climate will not be distributed evenly across society. Children represent more than a third of South Africa’s population and are one of the social groups most vulnerable to climate change. Research shows that many of the main killers of children – diarrhoea, under-nutrition, and malaria – are highly sensitive to climatic conditions.

"In the context of existing poverty and HIV and AIDS, climate change is likely to deepen the vulnerability of children in South Africa,” said Aida Girma, UNICEF Representative. "Children are more susceptible than adults to the adverse effects of environmental degradation because of their physical, cognitive and physiological immaturity."...

School children at Imperial Primary School in Eastridge, Mitchell's Plain (Cape Town, South Africa). Picture taken by Henry Trotter

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