Over 250 children drawn from different African countries converged for a two-day Children Climate Summit in Nairobi, Kenya.
The Summit which, commenced on 2nd September, is a dialogue session with the policymakers on climate change and how it affects children and the way forward to formulating strategies that protect children against climate shocks.
The summit precedes the three-day inaugural Africa Climate Summit commencing on 4th August 2023. The Summit will bring together 28 African heads of state together to dialogue on ways to mitigate climate change in a region that is disproportionally affected by climate change.
It aims to aim to address the increasing exposure to climate change and its associated costs, both globally and particularly in Africa.
Further, it will serve as a platform to inform, frame, and influence commitments, pledges, and outcomes, ultimately leading to the development of the Nairobi Declaration.
The children noted that they have been affected by climate change in their respective countries. Some were affected by severe drought, snow, floods, cyclones and landslides.
A child from South Africa said,’ In South Africa, weather has been so unpredictable, we experienced snow for two days something we haven’t experienced.’
Another one from South Africa said,’ We have had floods that affect our learning as we can’t access health facilities and schools.’
To retaliate a child from Kenya said,’ In West Pokot, were are experiencing severe drought and this is affecting our learning and health.’
As a result, they said, they face other challenges occasioned by climate change such as FGM, early pregnancies, early marriages, food insecurity, dropping out of school, and child labour.
‘When there was a drought in our area, many cattle died and fathers married off their teenage daughters to recover the lost cattle, now some are pregnant’, a child from Kenya reckoned.
As a consequence, their right to education, health, and a clean environment is taken away from them thus bringing about inequality which spills into their adulthood.
The Summit’s theme is an African fit for children. Children’s voices in the climate change discourse.
To mitigate these challenges, the children asked policymakers and governments to enact policies that will curb climate change, increase climate change funds, heavily penalize industries contributing to climate change through pollution, and establish recycling plants in all areas.
Further, they asked to be included in decision-making on matters of climate change, and for dustbins to be placed in all places.
At the end of the Children’s Summit, a declaration on climate change by children will be drafted and presented to presidents and decision makers during the Africa Climate Summit.
The conversation is timely as a recent report by UNICEF shows that Children in Africa are among the most at risk from climate change impacts but are being woefully deprived of the financing necessary to help them adapt, survive and respond to the crisis.
According to the report released recently, Time to Act: African children in the climate change spotlight, children in 48 out of 49 African countries assessed are categorized as at high or extremely high risk of the impacts of climate change.
The analysis assesses countries based on children’s exposure to climate and environmental shocks, such as cyclones and heatwaves, as well as their vulnerability to those shocks, based on their access to essential services.