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How climate change affects children

Updated: Jun 21, 2022

If you have been reading our blogs this last couple of weeks you will know about the torrential rain that hit the Sapo Nu community, Recife, Northeast Brazil on the nights of the 28th and 29th May. The overflowing of the Tejipió River caused one of the worst floods in its history. Unimaginably 2000 families were impacted by the rain and almost 9000 people lost everything they owned.

The water ravaged through the community taking everything in its in path. Severe damage was inflicted on the Coqueiral Baptist Church which is where the Mentoring and Skills Training project Happy Child International supports is operating from. In fact, the project is in the heart of this devastated area. For now, this particular programme has been able to relocate while the church gets back on its feet.

Despite civil society, government agencies and local organisations pulling together, this has not been enough to sufficiently respond to those who have suffered losses – mostly the marginalised poor.

The situation has arisen because the Tejipió River requires frequent drainage and maintenance to withstand adverse weather conditions. Our understanding is that this has not taken place despite years of campaigning to local and state government by environmental activists in the area. It seems it has been a tragedy waiting to happen.

Climate change is having its impact in Brazil too. The country is home to more than 60 per cent of the Amazon rainforest, the largest tropical forest in the world but it has high exposure to climate risks and deforestation which call for a strong reform to address these challenges.

The impact of climate change and severe weather conditions severely affects the lives of vulnerable children and young people in communities like Sapo Nu. Poor sanitation can expose them to water born diseases, crisis floods can close local schools and disrupt education, families in crisis will struggle to feed their children potentially causing food insecurity and malnutrition.

It is vital to protect and prepare children and young people in the climate crisis by raising their awareness about it, securing action from them and wholeheartedly supporting their chosen engagement with it. This is a reachable goal, and our projects are committed to working environmentally with the children and young people.

It will be a long road back for the Sapo Nu community to recover from this unexpected catastrophe. It’s a huge challenge for our church-based partners to support so many people coming out of this crisis. We at Happy Child International will do all we can to offer our support and resources in this season.

The good news is that recent reforms in the infrastructure sector in Brazil, together with the administration’s renewed interest in the climate agenda, provide sound opportunities for Brazil’s green recovery and for lifting millions of Brazilians out of poverty.

  • Written by: Caroline Taylor, Head of Operations – Happy Child International

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