Time to put Africa’s Youngest Children in Climate Change Consideration

A mother and daughter look out over submerged houses in Panyagor in Twic East, Jonglei State in South Sudan.   Flooding has devastated much of the area and it is estimated that more than 800,000 people in South Sudan have been affected by the current flooding.  Contrary to previous years, water levels in many locations are not receding despite the onset of the dry season.  This year, a higher number of children are now exposed for longer periods of time to the risks and vulnerabilities associated with the impact of floods.  Many have had to flee their destroyed homes and are unable to find food as fields have also been flooded.  More than 390,000 children are now without access to basic services including social services, clean water, proper healthcare and schooling. Local authorities estimate that as much as 85% of Twic East is affected by flooding with as many as 80,000 people having fled the area for safer drier ground. Climate change is impacting children in South Sudan as never before. South Sudan is ranked number 7 worldwide in children’s exposure to climate change and environmental shocks. Young people living in South Sudan are among those most at risk of the impacts of climate change, threatening their health, education, and protection, according to a recent global UNICEF Report. Climate change has contributed to increased severity, durations and spread of annual floods in South Sudan, which are increasingly unpredictable. Since 2019, floods have affected between 750,000 and one million people every year, forcing half of them to leave their homeland in search of safety. UNICEF and partners are responding to the immediate needs of people affected and displaced by floods, providing them with essential supplies, including soap, drugs and education materials, while ensuring continuation of lifesaving services such as healthcare, vaccination, nutrition and access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). To reduce the impact of floods on the most vulne

December 2, 2023 – CGTN news outlet published an op-ed co-authored by Lynette Okengo, Executive Director of the Africa Early Childhood Network and Elizabeth Lule, Executive Director of the Early Childhood Development Action Network. The article calls for concerted efforts to prioritize early childhood development in regional and national plans to address the underlying causes of climate change and environmental degradation. They urged world leaders to invest in building climate-resilient care, health, and education systems to help children not only survive but thrive.