Children are the least responsible for climate change, yet will bear the greatest burden of its impact. Nearly 160 million children live in high drought-severity zones and 500 million (almost a quarter of the world’s child population) live in extremely high flood occurrence zones. It is projected that by 2040, almost 600 million children will be living in areas of extremely high- water supply stress conditions. The objective of this report is to outline the observed and projected impacts of climate change, and the related climate hazards, risks and vulnerabilities in sub-Saharan Africa. The report highlights UNICEF’s mandate as the advocate for children and women affected by the climate crisis, and demonstrates existing climate adaptation, mitigation, and communications and advocacy initiatives – including through a series of eight case studies – that UNICEF is strategically positioned to take to scale as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Sub-Saharan Africa hosts several climate change hotspots, where strong physical and ecological effects of climate change intersect with large populations of poor and vulnerable communities. Recent years have seen serious climate-related crises including the severe ongoing crisis in the Sahel region of West Africa since 2012 in which a drought, food and refugee crisis continues to affect people in Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Chad, Mauritania,
Senegal and the Gambia; the Horn of Africa drought in 2017; Tropical Cyclone Idai and Tropical Cyclone Kenneth (the strongest storm to ever hit Africa) in 2019; and in 2020, the worst outbreak for decades of swarms of desert locusts across East Africa, with a huge threat to food security and livelihoods.
Currently, more than 11 million people are experiencing crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity in nine Southern African countries due to deepening drought and climate crisis.
Climate change and environmental degradation are contributing to displacement and migration, with Sub-Saharan Africa recording 86 million internal climate migrants.
Modelling for different climate futures indicates that subtropical southern Africa could see a decrease in annual precipitation of up to 30 per cent, contributing to an increase in aridity in the region. Projected sea-level rise would increase flooding, particularly on the coasts of Kenya, Madagascar and Mozambique in eastern Africa, increasing the high socio-economic and physical vulnerability of coastal cities. In addition to the risks of flooding around coastal areas, approximately 10 million children live around Lake Victoria, which is also prone to flooding.