Vulnerable children: A climate change challenge

01 Nov, 2016
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Vulnerable children: A climate change challenge

Weather related disasters have more than tripled over the last 30 years and are on a constant rise worldwide. This changing climate poses a serious threat to child rights pertaining to survival, food security, health, access to water and sanitation, education and protection.

Children, whether living in the villages, peri urban or urban areas, are all vulnerable to climate change impacts. But of these, there will be some, who are more vulnerable than the others.

Is it possible to identify them? And can the specific vulnerabilities of these groups be quantified?

A study 'Urban Governance and Urban Climate Change Resilience' was conducted across 5 Indian cities: Shimla, Indore, Gorakhpur, Panjim & Guwahati. In an effort to understand their vulnerabilities better, the report identified the vulnerable groups in these cities vis-a-vis climate change impacts.

These are :

Identified Groups Specific Vulnerabilities restricting resilience Resilience options &  governance linkages
Children settled in slum/slum like areas
• Lack of access to basic services like water,sanitation, health


• Temporary/incomplete shelter not suitable for harsh climate (plinth level, ventilation, heat, cold)

• Psycho-social aspects related to security

• No control over land and resources

• Lack of open spaces/play ground

• Participation in governance


• Housing Schemes

• Community institutions

• Creating open spaces/ playground




• Congested settlements


• Behavioural issue - conservation

• Illiteracy and dependence on religious education

• High drop outs particularly in girls

•Security measures


• Behavioural change

• Special attention on quality of basic services

• Involvement of NGOs

• Capacity building

Low Income  Settlements
• Frequent inundation, loss of stored food, raw materials for income generation


• Difficult fragile settlements

• Dumping area for solid waste and sewage

• Open drains

• Access to school, health services

• Peri-urban areas getting depletion in natural ecosystems

• Rehabilitation


• Health Surveillance

• Real time information and warning system

• Regulation provisions on flood pump

• Basic services - special attention

• Solid waste and sewage management

• Coordination amongst planners, basic service providers

Children indulged in illegal  activities/


abused (Addict, Abused, Beggars)

• Indulging in making country liquor, beer selling etc.


• Addiction (glue, polish, iodex, tire water,etc.)

• Petty crimes

• Psycho-social impacts

• Identity

• Exploited as sex objects

• Identity to rag pickers, in-migrants


• Coordinated monitoring

• Access to schools

• Involvement of NGOs

• Child protection norms to be strictly followed

• Effective functioning of shelter homes

Children trafficked from different places and living on streets and platforms
• Transit cities are zones and destination (Gorakhpur) for trafficked children (Indo-              Nepal, Bangladesh-India, inter-states,rural-urban)


• Forced prostitution

• Anti- trafficking rules


• Strengthening livelihood

• Opportunities at source level.

• Surveillance & monitoring

The lives in the cities have become more challenging and competitive due to degeneration of ecosystems and natural environment, which in turn affects the lives of people largely dependent on these resources. But understanding it from the children’s perspective can help them reduce the risks they face, paving the path to a more resilient future.

This is the fourth blog based on the study ‘Urban Governance and Urban Climate Change Resilience ‘ by Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group, supported by UNICEF, New Delhi.

Blog 3: Making children climate resilient: These cities show the way
Blog 2: Climate change, children & their education
Blog 1: Missing ‘children’ in the climate change dialogue

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