UNICEF & Prudential: Protecting Kids from the Effects of Climate Change

A child takes a break from his middle school class in Samastipur, one of the worst flood-affected and earthquake-prone districts in Bihar Province, India. UNICEF carries out a community-based disaster risk reduction program in Bihar, covering 255 villages and 155 schools, to build resilience to disasters before they strike. © UNICEF/INDA2012-00312/Singh 

As the world focuses its attention on the issue of climate-change at COP21 this week, the statistics are well known.  By the end of the 1990s, climate-change related disasters affected about 66 million children per year. In the coming decades, this number is projected to triple, reaching 200 million children. The last ten years have seen some of the largest disasters on record, with over 1.8 billion people affected.

To combat this increase in humanitarian emergencies, UNICEF is working with partners, governments and communities around the globe to institute a child-centered approach to disaster risk reduction focusing on:

  1. Addressing the underlying causes of vulnerability for children – through child-centered risk assessments

  2. Ensuring a voice for children, and the meaningful participation of children in decision-making processes

  3. Adapting nutrition, health, WASH, child protection and education programs – such as through elevated water points, surveillance, and early treatment of diseases, among other measures

  4. Prioritizing comprehensive school safety – through safe learning facilities, school disaster management, and risk reduction & resilience education

With the support of the Prudential Financial, who committed $1.5 million in support of UNICEF’s Disaster Risk Reduction programs over the next three years, this work will reduce children’s exposure and vulnerability to extreme weather events and other economic, social, and environmental shocks and disasters – saving lives and protecting children’s rights to a healthy, safe, and productive future.

This approach aligns with the three phases of relief, recovery and redevelopment in the Prudential disaster management framework. Prudential has learned through its own efforts that rapid response is most effective when combined with a longer-term approach to community capacity building and disaster preparedness.