In commemoration of World Children’s Day, Gerida Birukila, the UNICEF chief of field office in Kaduna State, revealed that a staggering 650,000 Nigerians, mostly children, have been displaced due to flooding between 2016 and 2021. The theme for this year’s celebration, “Impact of climate change on children,” highlights the significant role climate change plays in this crisis. Nigeria ranks as the second worst country globally in terms of children’s exposure and vulnerability to climate change, scoring 8.5 out of 10 on UNICEF’s Children’s Climate Risk Index, alongside Chad.
Rising temperatures, flooding, drought, and intense storms pose serious threats to Nigerian children, resulting in physical dangers, health issues, waterborne diseases, and malnutrition. The lack of climate-resilient sanitation services also contributes to public health hazards. Moreover, only 55.4% of the Nigerian population has access to electricity, further exacerbating the situation.
Urgent action is needed to prevent the undermining of progress in the sanitation sector and to develop climate-resilient infrastructure. UNICEF, in collaboration with various stakeholders, is working towards mitigating climate risks and empowering local communities through climate-resilient initiatives in water, sanitation, and hygiene services, healthcare facilities, and climate change education.
The state government of Kaduna also reaffirmed its commitment to improving the social well-being of children, including addressing the effects of climate change on vulnerable populations.