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Put children at centre of climate investments: Unicef

Unicef said the current El Niño crisis affecting large parts of Zimbabwe was a reminder of how climate-related emergencies are impacting the lives of children.

The United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) has called for an increase in child-centred climate investments in Zimbabwe to reduce the risk of shocks caused by climate change on children.

Zimbabwe is grappling with the effects of climate change, which have led to drought leaving marginalised communities facing starvation.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has already declared the drought a state of disaster in a bid to marshal resources and avert possible starvation.

In a statement, Unicef called for more funding of climate resilient programmes to ensure continued access to health, education, water and sanitation services, nutrition and child protection services.

The UN agency also called for programmes to strengthen the resilience of households to deal with climate-related emergencies.

“Under our climate campaign ‘Invest in Climate, Invest in Children!’ we are launching a petition to urge government entities, development partners and the private sector to prioritise children in their climate investments,” Unicef said.

“Zimbabwe experiences the effects of climate change through cyclical droughts, floods and extreme weather events, including those caused by phenomena like El Niño and La Niña. Climate change-induced events are becoming more frequent and intense, leading to severe impacts on children and their communities.”

Unicef said the current El Niño crisis affecting large parts of Zimbabwe was a reminder of how climate-related emergencies are impacting the lives of children.

“The challenges created by El Niño in Zimbabwe come at a time when the country is also faced with public health emergencies related to cholera and polio, putting Zimbabwe in a complex, multi-dimensional humanitarian crisis,” the UN agency said.

Unicef said its climate-resilient initiatives were anchored on empowering children as catalysts for change and environmental guardians, placing them at the forefront of crafting solutions.

“With the escalating impact of climate change on children's well-being, there's a pressing demand for increased investment in child-centred climate strategies.

“This is essential to amplify climate-resilient programmes, enhance household and caregiver resilience to climate shocks and mitigate the long-term effects of climate change on future generations,” Unicef said.

In its 2024 Humanitarian Action for Children report released last month, the agency said Zimbabwe had a high national child food poverty rate of 83%, adding that children were not receiving the diverse diet needed for healthy growth and development.

It also revealed that it would focus on the most vulnerable districts in the country, targeting to assist at least two million children at risk of contracting preventable diseases and malnutrition.

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