Let me recommend to read very attentively the former posting on this blog :
UNICEF: Children most vulnerable to climate change
UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, is the driving force that helps build a world where the rights of every child are realized,.
Matthew McKinnon, Head of the Climate Vulnerability Initiative at DARA International, told MediaGlobal how the impact of climate change is already evident.
“In Asia, Central and South Asia are the most vulnerable regions; in the Pacific, it is the small island developing states. Both areas are affected by more extreme weather, by effects on human health, by sea-level rise, by desertification (especially India and China), by economic damages to the agricultural sector and effects for natural resources, such as water and biodiversity.”
Geoffrey Keele, Communications Specialist with UNICEF’s East Asia and Pacific Regional Office, explained to MediaGlobal the specific harms children face in light of these changes.
“The leading killers of children worldwide are highly sensitive to climate changes,” he says. “For example, higher temperatures have been linked to increased rates of malnutrition, cholera, diarrheal disease and vector-borne diseases like dengue and malaria. Yet children’s underdeveloped immune systems put them at far greater risk of contracting these diseases and succumbing to their complications.”
And Mr. Keele explained that the rising occurrence of extreme weather events might hamper long-term agricultural production. “This could lead to higher food prices and a corresponding increase in malnutrition rates in a region where one in every four children is already stunted due to poor nutrition.” Moreover, such events may divert children from activities like going to school in order to aid in household tasks or pursue work to earn wages, thus deepening their vulnerability.
It is common knowledge that child malnutrition is one of the worst plagues for humanity. Therefore, it is quite understandable that, if climate change is hampering long-term agricultural production, leading to higher food prices and increase in malnutrition, this is also determining UNICEF’s strategies for helping the children to better nutrition.
However, when reading that Mr. McKinnon, concerning the Durban Summit to bolster financing and advance the fight against climate change, said : “We hope that the Durban Summit will plug the funding gap between 2013-2019 with explicit developed country commitments for annual increases in climate finance from current levels to progressively attain the $100 billion“, we are tempted to put a number of question marks.
Should we rather use $100 billion for climate finance than for improving child nutrition ?
Putting the question is answering it !
No wonder that I am immediately thinking at that splendid low-budget UNICEF project “Family gardens for the Saharawi refugees in the region of Tindouf, S.W. Algeria“, where in 2005-2007 almost 2000 small family gardens have been built, providing fresh vegetables and fruits for the refugee families, in particular the children.
No one denied the importance of this beautiful UNICEF initiative for the children’s health, not even the staff members of the WFP in Tindouf.
We were all terrified when suddenly, at the end of 2007 and without any explanation, UNICEF stopped this successful project. Fortunately, the Saharawi refugees themselves found the necessary force to continue the efforts step-by-step.
Instead of building upon the lessons learned about inexpensive food production in the Sahara desert for deciding upon strategies to decrease rates of child malnutrition, UNICEF is now hoping for “explicit developed country commitments for annual increases in climate finance from current levels to progressively attain the $100 billion“.
Let me invite you all to quickly estimate how many family gardens, community gardens, school gardens, allotments, urban container and vertical gardens could be build with $100 billion.
And yet, in certain circles, climate finance seems to become more important than financing sustainable infrastructures for improving child nutrition.
See what the poor people in the slums of Nairobi did : creating their own sack gardens ! See what aid organizations did to provide fresh food in the refugee camps of Dabaab : sack gardening. See what many people in flooded areas in Asia do : container gardening, even in hanging containers. See what urban families do on their balconies : bottle tower gardening. Remember what hungry people did in World War I and II : creating Victory Gardens (allotments) in open urban spaces. Be also aware of those spontaneous actions for food production called “guerilla gardening“.
Is all this only ringing my own bell ?
So, what will come first : climate financing or food production financing (and not “food aid” because that is not a sustainable solution; it should be linked at emergencies) ?
Time has come to decide : will we use our scarce financial resources to combat malnutrition and hunger or to combat rising temperatures, mostly due to industrial activities?
Since 2008 continuously wondering why UNICEF stopped its marvelous family gardens project in Algeria, I feel my temperature rising.
Please cool me down with a decent answer !