Climate Change affects all the rights of children in Zimbabwe: Swedish Ambassador

– climate change is making it very difficult for parents to put food on the table and this is affecting children more, Swedish Ambassador to Zimbabwe Ms Asa Pehrson said.

John Cassim

HARARE, ZIMBABWE – The Swedish Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Ms Asa Pehrson, has hinted climate change is affecting all the rights of children in Zimbabwe and beyond.

Swedish Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Ms Asa Pehrson

She made the remarks on Tuesday May 16, during an exclusive interview with Conservezim at her residence, after the allocation of US$ 5. 8 million to UNICEF.

The funding is meant to support child protection programs by UNICEF, in combating various forms of violence, exploitation and abuse.

“I think climate change has affected all of the rights of children, to name a few, the right to food, when lands are flooded and when there are droughts.

Also, the right to education, being able to reach school, access to sanitary conditions and clean water,” Ambassador Asa Pehrson said.

She added that climate change is making it difficult for parents to put food on the table, pay the school fees, and ensure that the children are protected at home, at school and online.

– effects explained 

According to Dr Tajudeen Oyewale, UNICEF Representative in Zimbabwe, climate change has massive implications on children.

“When you experience disruption of the rain pattern like we sometimes have in Zimbabwe, leading to drought, what it means is that food in households is decreased. It means households will rationalise the food and the child is the one that suffers the most”

“The child will not have nourishment as the food has been rationed, and when you look into water scarcity again it’s the child who suffers the most as that will affect their growth and  education as they grow in life,” Dr Tajudeen explained.

In some instances, access to school for some children in the remote parts of the country is affected during floods.

Persistent droughts have of late led to certain families marrying off their daughters in exchange of food, a phenomenon that has given rise to child marriages.

Other examples of such effects is the closing down of schools in Malawi recently, during Tropical Cyclone Freddy.

Countries like Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar may take ages to reconstruct schools that were damaged by the Tropical Cyclone Freddy meaning learning for children will be affected for longer periods.

“All the damage of climate change that we are talking about now in many years to come when the impact will be felt, the children who have contributed less to the problem will feel the impact more.

They are going to pay more for what we are doing,” said Dr Tajudeen.

Owing to climate change access to water has also been affected and some families are having to travel long distances to fetch water.

It is during these routine chores that the girl child is exposed to dangers such as physical, emotional and sexual abuse.   

In search of protection from close relatives, children end up facing various forms of violence, exploitation and abuse.

This is happening in every country and even in places where children should be most protected, like homes and schools.

Meanwhile the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that children can experience online violence.

– legal instruments 

Zimbabwe has made substantial progress on many child protection issues including through the adoption of legislation criminalising child marriage.

None the less as is the case in many other countries in the world, including Zimbabwe, child protection issues remain a concern.

Almost two out of three children experience some form of violent discipline, nearly one third of children as young as 5 up to 17 are illegally employed. Of them more than one out of ten work under hazardous conditions.

One in three girls under 18 experience sexual violence leading to teen pregnancy and early marriage. 21% of girls aged 15-18 are married or are in unions.

Meanwhile the funding by the Swedish Embassy will be used in 10 districts; Binga, Chiredzi, Bulilima, Buhera, Zvishavane, Mbire, Epworth, Beitbridge, Mutasa and Bulawayo as most of these are prone to climate shocks.

UNICEF Country Representative, Dr Tajudeen Oyewale

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