Nairobi, Kenya – Extreme weather events in countries vulnerable to climate change drove more than 27 million children into hunger last year, Save the Children said on Tuesday.
The figure represented a sharp 135 percent increase over 2021, the UK-based charity said in an analysis ahead of the COP28 climate summit opening in Dubai on Thursday.
It said children made up nearly half the 57 million people pushed into crisis levels of acute food insecurity or worse across 12 countries because of extreme weather in 2022, according to data from the IPC hunger monitoring system.
Out of the 12, countries in the Horn of Africa were most affected, with Ethiopia and Somalia accounting for about half of the 27 million children facing hunger, Save said.
“As climate-related weather events become more frequent and severe, we will see more drastic consequences on children’s lives,” Save’s CEO Inger Ashing said in a statement.
The charity called on leaders meeting at COP28 in Dubai to take action on the climate crisis by recognising children as “key agents of change” but more broadly to address other causes of food insecurity such as conflict and weak health systems.
Save highlighted the situation in Somalia, which is considered one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, locked in a vicious cycle of drought and floods.
It said the recent torrential rains and flooding that have engulfed many parts of the country had displaced about 650,000 people, about half of them children.
Elsewhere, Save noted that two million children in Pakistan remained acutely malnourished after floods that swamped a third of the country last year.
Across the planet, Save estimated that 774 million children -– or one third of the global child population — are living with the dual impacts of poverty and high climate risk.
In a report issued last week, Save said that more than 17.6 million children will be born into hunger this year, one-fifth more than a decade ago.