More than three-quarters, or 76 percent, of children in South Asia – which includes India, Pakistan and Afghanistan – are exposed to extreme heat, according to a new UNICEF report.
This number of children affected by extreme heat is more than any other region in the world.
Extreme heat is making children ill, restricting their activities and education, and is proving fatal for many children.
Children are more likely to be affected by heat than adults. This report has been prepared on the basis of temperature data in the year 2020.
Globally, nearly one-third, or 32 percent, of children are vulnerable to extreme temperatures, according to the report.
When the average temperature is below 35 degree Celsius for more than 83 days in a year, then it is called extreme temperature by meteorologists.
This situation is being observed year after year in South Asia and due to increase in temperature, this situation will become more dire in the coming years.
Globally, July this year was the warmest of any month of the year, and the global average temperature on July 4 was higher than any other day in history.
South Asia does not experience the highest temperature globally, but due to the majority of the poor population, the effects of rising temperatures are widespread.
More than 28 percent of children in countries in South Asia experience heatwaves on average for more than 4.5 days annually, compared to less than 24% globally.
According to scientists, extreme heat affects the entire population, but pregnant women, infants, children, malnourished populations and the elderly are most affected.
This year has been a disaster of rain and floods since the initial extreme heatwave in South Asia. The health effects of summer are amplified by rain because the increased humidity at this time, along with the increased temperature in the air, amplifies the effect of temperature.
In the month of June this year too, floods ravaged many parts of South Asia and more than 8 lakh children in these regions were affected by the extreme heat.
The effect of extreme temperature in children is not only physical but it also has a mental effect. Pregnant women are also affected by extreme heat and in such conditions the chances of stillbirth or premature birth increase.
Earlier in the year 2022, UNICEF had told in a report that extreme temperature is the cause of death of more than 5 lakh children every year in the world.
In the year 2020, 740 million children in 23 countries of Asia and Africa were affected by extreme heat, but in the very next year it affected 820 million children in 36 countries.
It is clear from this that the extent of extreme temperature is increasing with each coming year as compared to the previous year, and also the number of population affected by it.
According to this report, not only the health of children is affected by climate change and the rise in temperature due to it, but it also violates the rights of children.
It is estimated that by the year 2050 every child in the world will be affected by extreme temperatures, compared to one-fourth of the number of children affected at present. Due to increase in temperature, the scope of drought and famine is increasing, and the affected population is migrating to other places. Children are also bearing the brunt of drought and migration.
Scientists from Cambridge University have estimated the effects of extreme heat in India in the year 2022. These scientists have developed a health index related to the effects of heat, which includes temperature as well as humidity and air pollution levels.
According to this assessment last year more than 90 percent of our country’s population was affected by extreme heat and this affected nutrition and income and also resulted in deaths.
This affects food security and gender equality. Since 1992, more than 24000 people have died prematurely due to the effects of extreme heat alone in our country. According to this assessment, extreme heat not only affects health but also affects the economy.
It is estimated that due to extreme heat alone, there will be a loss of 2.8 percent of GDP by the year 2050 and 8 percent by the year 2100. There will be a loss of 7 percent.
The frequency of extreme heat years is increasing due to climate change. Earlier such years used to come at an average interval of 30 years, but now every year is destroying the record of the previous year in terms of temperature.
According to a study published by Cambridge University scientists, the effect of temperature rise will soon start affecting more than 90 percent of our country’s population, agriculture, wildlife and workers.
UNICEF published the Children’s Climate Risk Index in August 2021, titled – The Climate Crisis is a Child Rights Crisis.
It ranked countries in the index based on the impact of climate change on children in 163 countries around the world – countries with the highest risk to children are at the top of the index and countries with the least risk are at the bottom of the index. went.
India is jointly ranked 26th in this index along with Sierra Leone and Yemen. India’s neighboring countries are Pakistan at 14th place and Bangladesh and Afghanistan jointly at 15th place, apparently the children of these three countries are more at risk of climate change than India.
The rest of the neighboring countries are better off than us – Myanmar at 31, China at 40, Nepal at 51, Sri Lanka at 61 and Bhutan at 111.
According to this index, the worst condition of most children, that is, the Central African Republic is in the first place in the index. It is followed by Chad, Nigeria, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Somalia, Niger, South Sudan, Congo and Angola in that order. Last on the index, the country of children free from the effects of climate change, is Iceland.
The countries preceding it are, in order, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Finland, Estonia, Sweden, Norway, Malta, Ireland and Austria.
According to this index, about one-third of the world’s children, i.e. 820 million children, are facing the ravages of extreme temperatures, while 400 million children are affected by cyclones. About 300 million children are affected by riverine floods and 240 million children by sea-coastal floods.
More than 920 million children in the world face a lack of clean water and more than 600 million children are affected by vector-borne diseases. More than 2 billion children of the world are vulnerable to air pollution.
In our country, a lot of accolades on the measures taken to save the population from excessive heat, but the truth is that here the people are left to die from the heat.
The worst affected by the heat are the poor population. Farmers and laborers working in the fields, laborers working in the open and living by driving rickshaws or selling goods on the roads, are most affected.
During floods and cyclones, disaster management teams are active and relief and rescue work is done, but nothing like this is done during extreme temperatures and no compensation is given to those who die due to it.
Obviously, no plan is made for the poor and they are left to die of heat, cold, flood, disease and hunger.