The Government of Uganda and UNICEF have today launched a pioneering report that highlights the impact of climate change and urbanization on children.
Titled Emerging Global Challenges: Climate Related Hazards and Urbanization - Protecting Uganda’s Children, the report identifies climate change and urbanization as major challenges that will have an increasingly significant impact on the well-being of children in Uganda, especially the poorest, over the coming decades.
“Uganda’s vision to become a middle-income country by 2040 remains highly contingent on our ability to protect children’s rights in the face of mounting challenges such as climate-related hazards and urbanization” said Christine Guwatudde Kintu, Permanent Secretary, Office of the Prime Minister.
“Given these challenges threaten to undermine our national potential and trap millions of children in poverty, we must take action now to develop child-centred programmes that prepare for and prevent climate-related hazards as well as ensure that children living in urban areas are protected and able to achieve their full potential.”
The report highlights that Uganda has one of the fastest changing climates in the world.
With temperatures predicted to rise by an unprecedented 1.5ºC in the next 20 years and by up to 4.3ºC by the 2080s, Uganda’s rapidly changing climate is likely to have an impact on the majority of the population who live in rural areas and are dependent on rain-fed agriculture, as well as on the economy as a whole.
Climate-related crop failure and income loss are likely to affect food supplies as well as cause reduced spending on food and other items, which will jeopardize children’s nutritional status, cognitive capacity, health and well-being.
More pronounced climate variability will also have an increasingly significant effect on children’s education. For example, when coping with the aftermath of an extreme weather event or shock like a drought, flood, or landslide, school drop-outs are more likely.
Regarding the trend of people moving from rural to urban areas, the report notes that urbanization is occurring at the rapid rate of over 5 per cent per year in Uganda.
By 2035, it is estimated that 30 per cent of Uganda’s population will be urban dwellers – up from 20 per cent today - with a high proportion of them being children and youth.
While children living in urban areas are generally considered better off than their rural counterparts – with greater access to services and their parents having more diverse income-generating opportunities – they are also particularly vulnerable to homelessness, exploitation and abuse.
In fact, while 1 per cent of households in Kampala live below the poverty line, in some parishes in Kampala as many as 14 per cent of children live in poor households.
Urban dwelling therefore poses a number of threats to adolescents and youth from poorer households, especially girls and young women, who are at particular risk of sexual violence and HIV/AIDS.
Children and young people living in slums and informal settlements are also disproportionately vulnerable to a variety of deprivations, including overcrowded living conditions, poor sanitation, low educational attainment and a lack of income-generating opportunities for their parents and, as they become adults, themselves.
The Report was produced by the Office of the Prime Minister in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, National Planning Authority, Kampala Capital City Authority, Uganda Bureau of Statistics and UNICEF and is available in the resources section.