CLIMATE CHANGE AND CHILDREN
By John Njue
This year; 2010 is when the District is experiencing a break from the prolonged drought. The rain had not fallen since 2008 where both September and march rains failed. It’s was now two years since the last rain drop fall.
During the month of November there was little rain that was not evenly distributed. People from Mivukoni, Teikuru and most parts of Ngomeni are crying of hunger where else resident of Kamuwongo harvested heavily. This differences are brought about by the effect of climate change that has hit the area.
Despite the Weather conditions changing frequently and bring food insecurity, poor hearth and sanitation and worsening the water condition in the district. The most affected group are children.
According to extensive research carried by WEM integrated health services –Kyuso it has found out that children ,especially young children , that are in a stage of rapid development and are less well equipped on many fronts to deal with deprivation and stress. Their immature organs and nervous system, limited experiences and behaviour characteristics that makes them more vulnerable. The children are exposed to a lot risks by adults either knowingly or unknowingly.
Although children are generally inappropriately at a risk on many fronts, it is a mistake to think of them only as victims in the face of climate change. With adequate supports and protection, children can also extraordinarily be an active agents. climates change has very many effects to children which includes:
Health and survival
Due to climate change especially in arid and semi arid area not leaving Kyuso district out Most of the families are low-income earning and hence this may lead to prolonged drought and hunger which may cause loss of life to children, women and elderly. A study of the 4 years prolonged drought in Kyuso , for instance found that the death rates for children aged 2 to 9 was more than double that of adults.
Water and sanitation-related illness
Children under the age of five (5) years are victims of sanitation –related illness which includes diarrhoea, Amoeba attack, Tapeworm amongst others because of their less developed immunity and their play behaviour. The residents of Kyuso District are now surviving on pond water. They are sharing water with the animals. Water is ferried to the communities by donkeys.
This water is stagnant and green in colour due to non-flowering water plants growing into the water. Most people don’t boiled the water and hence risking the live of children who use .
Malaria and other tropical diseases
Kyuso district covers a total area of 10030.30km2 with the population of 341571 citizens and has average Temperatures range from 230C- 42OC. Warmer average temperature are expanding the areas where many tropical diseases can occur. With the children most often victim. In most locations of Kyuso district, the most serious threat is malaria . Malaria also increase the severity of other diseases.
Children learning and competence
For some children in some places , the added challenge brought about by climate change could contribute to erosion of both their mental capacity and opportunity for learning. Most people drop from schools due to lack of food at their families. In Kyuso district most schools especially in the marginalized regionalized have dropped the pupils population by a half due to effects of climate change.
Young children along with the elderly, are at highest risk from heat stress. Young children and the elderly are affected by temperature behold 20oc since their body tissues are still growing and may be destroyed before growth. The body colour of those children turn to black due to sun scorching.
Malnutrition is the common thing in dry area since there is high chance of food insecurity for example Kyuso district has been getting unpredicted unreliable rain and hence ending with nothing at the end of it all from the shamba.
Malnutrition increases the vulnerability on every front and can result in long-term physical and mental stunting.
Quality of care
As conditions become more challenging especially when all the family leaves the young children at home to go and look for food. The children are left without a caregiver and hence the risks factors generally exist in clusters .Overstretched and exhausted caregiver are more likely to leave children unsupervised and to cut corners in all the chores that are necessary for health living.
- Borrowing food from neighbors and relatives
- Rationing the food consumption and numbers of meals per day
- Eating wild fruit such as “Nthanwa and Kivuvua”
- Go hunting wild animals for meat after school
- Transferring to schools with school feeding programmes
- Using herbal medicine to treat the common disease brought about by high temperature
Addressing the concern of children may appear to be an unrealistic burden in the face of others. Some basic concern must be made to cap this strategy facing the minors such as:
- Ensuring children’s optimum health and nutrition through preventive care and environmental health measures may be a form of risk reduction. Food aid and supports should be given especially to the vulnerable communities as a climate change. This includes places affected by Hunger, famine ,Floods e.t.c.
- Strengthening families’ capacity to cope where adaptive measures are taken to enhance the capacity of households to come through period of difficulties and shock with minimal upset.
- Maintaining and restoring children’s routes , network and activities
- Respecting children’s capability and supporting their active involvement. Involving children to Solving problems, contributes to various issues, take action where necessary are potent forces for children .