In a shocking revelation, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has reported that floods have displaced a staggering 650,000 Nigerian children over the past seven years, from 2016 to 2023. This alarming statistic makes Nigeria the second most affected country globally by the devastating impacts of climate change on children.
The grim reality of climate change’s impact on Nigerian children was highlighted in a press release issued by UNICEF on Monday, November 20, 2023, coinciding with the commemoration of World Children’s Day. The UN agency painted a sobering picture, emphasizing that over 110 million Nigerian children are at risk due to the escalating threats posed by rising temperatures, floods, droughts, and severe storms.
In a compelling statement, Dr Salisu Dahiru, the Director General of the National Council on Climate Change, underscored the urgent need for a swift and inclusive response to the climate crisis. He stressed the paramount importance of considering the needs of vulnerable populations, particularly children and women, in all decision-making and implementation processes.
Echoing Dahiru’s call for action, Christian Munduate, UNICEF’s Representative in Nigeria, emphasized the crucial role of providing children with a platform to voice their concerns about climate change. He affirmed that empowering children to contribute to shaping a collective path towards a sustainable future is essential for achieving a climate-resilient world.
To mark World Children’s Day, stakeholders from various sectors, including education, the environment, media, and relevant organizations, converged at Evolution Hotel in Gombe, Nigeria, for the launch of the Climate Landscape Analysis for Children (CLAC) in Nigeria. This landmark event served as a platform to raise awareness about the climate crisis and its profound impact on Nigerian children.
During the CLAC launch, UNICEF’s Bauchi Field Office streamed the event live, highlighting the key climate risks faced by Nigerian children and outlining the multi-sectoral climate actions planned for Nigeria from 2023 to 2027. The event attracted a diverse group of participants, including UNICEF officials, Gombe’s Commissioner for Education, Professor Aishatu Umar Maigari, the Project Coordinator of Agro-Resilience in Semi-Arid Landscape (ACReSAL), and other prominent stakeholders, including journalists and advocates for peace.
Adding to the day’s significance was the presence of veteran journalists Farida Muhammad Dunemia, Alhaji Usman Shehu, Alhaji Aliyu Ardo, and others from Pathway to Peace DW Academia, who demonstrated their unwavering commitment to amplifying the voices of children and promoting climate action.
Following the CLAC launch, UNICEF, in collaboration with the Gombe State Ministry of Education, ACReSAL, and Pathway to Peace DW Academia, organized an inter-school quiz competition on climate change. This engaging event provided an opportunity for students to showcase their knowledge and understanding of climate change issues, fostering a sense of ownership and responsibility among the younger generation.
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In her opening remarks, Gombe’s Commissioner for Education, Professor Aishatu Umar Maigari, encouraged the participating students to embrace the inter-school quiz competition as an avenue to deepen their understanding of climate change. She commended UNICEF for launching the CLAC and for organizing the quiz competition to raise awareness among young people.
Emphasizing the importance of sustainability, Maigari called for ongoing efforts to support initiatives like CLAC and other interventions aimed at addressing the climate crisis and safeguarding the well-being of children. She expressed hope that these efforts would leave a lasting legacy for future generations.
The inter-school quiz competition culminated with the announcement of the winners. Government Girls Mega College, Gombe, emerged victorious, clinching the first-place position. Government Day Secondary School, Gandu, and Government Day Secondary School, Gombe, secured the second and third-place positions, respectively.
The outcomes of the quiz competition exemplified the potential of empowering children to become active agents in the fight against climate change. By fostering a culture of learning and engagement among young people, we can collectively shape a more resilient and sustainable future for all.