75 percent of Zim children face water scarcity: Unicef

Review & Mail Writer

Almost three-quarters of Zimbabwean children are exposed to climate-change induced water scarcity, a report by UNICEF has said.

The report reveals that a third of children, or 739 million globally, currently live in areas with high or very high water scarcity, a situation exacerbated by climate change.

The report, titled “The Climate Changed Child,” emphasizes the double challenge of decreasing water availability and inadequate water and sanitation services, posing greater risks to children. It highlights the global impact through three tiers: water scarcity, water vulnerability, and water stress.

The Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia are identified as regions with the highest exposure. Notably, 436 million children face extreme water vulnerability, leading to health risks and preventable deaths.

The report urges investment in safe water and sanitation as a crucial defense against climate change impacts. It also calls attention to the insufficient consideration of children in climate discussions, with only 2.4% of climate finance directed towards child-responsive projects.

India is ranked top among 25 countries with high exposure to water scarcity risks, while Zimbabwe is ranked overall ninth.
The report says 74.3 percent children in Zimbabwe are at risk.

Zimbabwe is facing continuous challenges of water scarcity due to incessant droughts, leaving communities without water for agriculture and drinking.

The situation is likely to get worse.

According to an environmental report by 2050, Zimbabwe is estimated to experience a decline of 38 percent in national water availability per capita due to climate change.

As 20 percent of agriculture is irrigated, water availability is the crucial factor to agricultural development in the country. Reduced availability of water from surface and groundwater resources, may result in decreased crop yield and crop failure in agriculture; reduced hydro-electric power output from the energy sector; fluctuating availability, quality, and cost of agricultural raw materials for industry; constrained processing in the mining sector; decreased attractiveness of tourism destinations (including Victoria Falls); and sanitation constraints and increased burden of water-borne diseases for the health sector, among others.

UNICEF calls on world leaders at COP28 to prioritize children’s concerns, emphasizing their inclusion in decisions and actions for a sustainable and climate-resilient future.

The organization advocates for incorporating children into COP28 decisions, the Global Stocktake, the Global Goal for Adaptation, and child-responsive measures in the Loss and Damage Fund.

Beyond COP28, UNICEF urges sustained efforts to protect children’s lives, health, and well-being, emphasizing the need for global climate action that centers on the welfare of every child.

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