Global Hunger Is Threatening Families Because of Climate Change

Droughts are not new to East Africa. However, abnormally high
temperatures in the region are linked to climate change and proving
deadly for livelihoods and livestock. Credit: Petterik
Wiggers/Oxfam

By Siddharth Chatterjee
NAIROBI, Kenya, May 15 2019 (IPS)

There is barely a corner of human life that will not be affected
by climate change, and some of its impacts are already being felt.
Consider this, 821 million people are now hungry and over 150
million children stunted, putting the hunger eradication goal, SDG
2, at risk.

Today 15 May, is the United Nations International Day of
Families and the theme for this year is, ‘Families and Climate
Action’.

The wellbeing of families is central to healthy societies, but
is threatened by climate change, especially in the poorest parts of
the world.

Across the world what we understand by ‘family’ takes many
forms, but it remains the fundamental unit of society. It is where
from our earliest days we learn to share, to love, to reason, to
consider others, to stand up for ourselves and to take
responsibility.

But families face challenges on many fronts and – particularly
in the developing world – climate change is perhaps the greatest
of these as it is exacerbating hunger and food insecurity.

The focus on families and climate has most resonance in Africa,
where it is estimated that climate change could
reduce yields from rain-fed agriculture by 50 percent by 2020
,
jeopardizing the welfare of seven in ten people who depend on
farming for a living.

“Environment is the foundation of development,” said
Kenya’s President, Uhuru Kenyatta when he launched the government’s 1.8 billion
tree-planting campaign in May 2018.

When crops are wiped out by flood or drought, families are
robbed of livelihoods and food security. Parents who are already
financially vulnerable then struggle to meet the costs of housing,
feeding and schooling their children, and of paying for medicines
when they are sick.

The greatest killers of children – malnutrition, diarrhoeal
disease and malaria – will worsen because of climate change.
Children living in developing countries face the greatest risks of
all, not always because climate change effects will be worse there
than in other countries, but because poverty limits their ability
to respond.

Nowhere is this truer than in Bangladesh, with its
overwhelmingly young population and almost unparalleled
vulnerability to the repercussions of a changing climate. A
recent
report
by UNICEF looked at the impact of climate change on
families and children in Bangladesh.

“Climate change is deepening the environmental threat faced by
families in Bangladesh’s poorest communities, leaving them unable
to keep their children properly housed, fed, healthy and
educated,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore, who
visited Bangladesh in early March 2019.

Increased competition for dwindling natural resources results in
political instability, social upheaval, conflicts, forced migration
and displacements
and once again, children are the main
victims. Forced from their homes, many are denied an education,
further denting their prospects and threatening social and economic
development in some of the poorest areas of the world.

An FAO
study says that almost 57% of Kenya’s population lives in
poverty, particularly female headed households who are largely
reliant on climate-sensitive economic activities including rain fed
subsistence or smallholder agriculture.

With Kenya’s considerable advances in mobile technology
penetration, important information can be delivered to agricultural
actors along the value chain, including weather information and
availability and prices of inputs.

With proper investments and policy,
Kenya’s youth can spur the transformation of agriculture from
subsistence
, hit-or-miss propositions to robust commercial
operations that can withstand the effects of climate change.

Africa’s biggest threat from climate change will remain the
inter-generational downward spiral into deeper poverty that is
brought on by decreased farm yields.

Increasing resilience to climate-related shocks in Africa’s
agriculture will result in a rise in farm productivity. It will
mean women, who make up the largest share of the continent’s
small-holder farmers, will have better incomes. Women allocate more
of their income to food, health and education for their families,
therefore it would also translate into greater gains for children
and future generations.

Ending hunger and poverty is the prime mission of the UN’s
Sustainable Development Goals, and will demand dramatic shifts in
what and how we consume, and above all it will demand cooperation
and collaboration on a regional and global scale.

It will not be easy, but for the sake of every family,
everywhere, we cannot fail.

A version of this article originally appeared in

Reuters

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Global Hunger Is Threatening Families Because of Climate Change

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Excerpt:


Siddharth Chatterjee
is the United Nations Resident
Coordinator to Kenya.

The post
Global Hunger Is Threatening Families Because of Climate Change

appeared first on Inter Press
Service
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Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Global Hunger Is Threatening Families Because of Climate Change