April 13, 2024

Climate change threatens the well-being of South African children

3 min read

In South Africa, children and young people face a grave and often overlooked threat from the devastating impacts of climate change.

According to a recent report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), titled “The Climate Crisis Is a Child’s Rights Crisis: Introducing the Children’s Climate Risk Index (2021)”, South African children are among the most vulnerable to the ravages of the climate crisis. Very young children, in particular, are at risk of suffering disproportionately from harsh weather conditions, water scarcity and the pollution of soil, air and water.

Scientists have been alerting the world to the existence and future impact of climate change for decades. It is no longer a distant threat but a crisis of gargantuan proportions, the global consequences of which we are being confronted with daily. Multiple, sustainable and urgent strategies are required to lessen its devastating effect, particularly on those who are most vulnerable.

This is where the intersection of climate change and nurturing care for young children offers a unique opportunity. By prioritising policies, programmes and practices that support young children’s well-being, we can simultaneously address the urgent and the important. This is crucial because we simply cannot afford to choose between them.

“When we invest in nurturing care for young children, we not only increase their resilience and adaptive capacity to climate change and other emergencies, but we also promote human development, build climate resilience and foster sustainable development for society as a whole. This is a triple dividend that pays off both in the short term and the long term,” says Warren Farrer, executive director of the DO MORE FOUNDATION.

“The DO MORE FOUNDATION is committed to catalysing short-term action and driving long-term systemic change to improve learning, health and social outcomes for young children and their families. We view climate change not as an issue to be solved but rather the very real context we are living in.”

On 22 April, the world celebrated Earth Day, which is dedicated to raising awareness about the impact of climate change on our planet and the people who inhabit it.

The DO MORE FOUNDATION has kicked off two new initiatives aligned with the World Earth Day themes of “Sustainable Fashion” and “End Plastics”, namely Clothes4Purpose and B.Blox.

Clothes4Purpose is an initiative that involves donating second-hand clothing to women-led small and micro enterprises who repurpose and resell the clothing to generate an income. This, in turn, contributes substantially to these enterprising entrepreneurs’ ability to provide nurturing care to their young children while benefiting their communities.

B.Blox are children’s building blocks made entirely from waste material and are used as a learning resource for young children in under-resourced communities. These innovative blocks are manufactured by a social enterprise created by retail display manufacturer Barrows, located in Durban. The DO MORE FOUNDATION acts as the distribution partner, and this initiative forms part of an ongoing partnership. Called Repurpose for Purpose, Barrows produces early-learning materials using excess business inventory that would otherwise have been disposed of.

“World Earth Day 2023 may be over, but we call on the South African government, private sector and civil society to prioritise policies and initiatives that will increase the resilience and adaptive capacity of young children to the effects of climate change and other emergencies. We must work together to safeguard the future of our children and ensure a sustainable future for all,” says Farrer.

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