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The Invisible Victims of Climate Change: How Global Warming Devastates Orphaned Children

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The Invisible Victims of Climate Change: How Global Warming Devastates Orphaned Children

Date posted

April 24, 2024

Author

Penny Appeal

Category

General

Time to read

3 minutes

Much has been spoken about the greater impacts of climate change on children as a whole. However, one vulnerable group often overlooked in the conversation are orphaned children. These young, innocent lives bear the brunt of the environmental crisis, facing an uncertain future filled with compounding challenges. 

Penny Appeal has witnessed firsthand the devastating toll that climate change takes on orphaned children across the globe. From drought-stricken regions to flood-ravaged communities, these children are the invisible victims, their suffering hidden behind the statistics and policy debates.

Here are some things to consider. Crop failures due to conditions of drought, flooding, and extreme temperature changes which inevitably lead to higher prices, increases the rate of childhood malnutrition. Environmental degradation induced by climate change is also contributing to an increase in fatal childhood diseases. Children are more at risk of dehydration during extremely high temperatures, and are more prone to suffering the effects of air pollution than adults. 

These concerns, and more, also contribute to declining mental health among children. These effects are only exacerbated when children go from being cared for, to becoming caregivers. 

Orphaned children, particularly those who are thrust into caregiver roles to their siblings, are more at risk of depression, isolation, and poverty. Extended familial instability where family support is lacking, further contributes to long term depressive symptoms, often manifesting by a lack of sociability and silence.

A staggering 40 million children around the world have their education interrupted due to climate related events every year. Those children that are unable to attend school due to lack of access and affordability, are also at risk of detrimental psychological risks where, in the case of orphaned children, taking on adult responsibilities such as providing food, fetching water, seeking and maintaining shelter, becomes a desperate priority. Missing out on early learning development, and childhood activities, further plays into long term psychological harm and hinders their ability to thrive in their later years. 

As droughts intensify and crop yields plummet and prices rise, orphanages find it more and more difficult to provide adequate nutrition and access to clean water amidst the rising number of children in need of protection and care.

As you can see, the detrimental relationship between the global orphaned population and climate change becomes more apparent. Not only does climate change become an environmental issue, it simultaneously poses a human rights concern affecting children in general, but orphaned children in particular.

Penny Appeal has recognised this specific relationship between climate change and orphaned children. It is particularly why we have chosen to concentrate one of our orphan support programs in Pakistan, one of the most climate vulnerable areas of the world.

One of the countries that contributes the least to climate change, Pakistan saw the devastating consequences of extreme climate in 2002, where heavy monsoon rains rendered much of the country under water. Children, and orphans in particular, were affected. 

Such projects like the Mera Apna Ghar (translating to “My Own Home”) seeks to foster a safe community with adequate facilities to ensure these young children live a full and happy life, despite the heartbreaking circumstances which they have come from. By providing safe, healthy spaces with quality education, clean water, and regular nutritious meals, orphaned children have the opportunity to mitigate the effects climate change may have on their present circumstances, and future development. 

As more and more relief and development organisations begin to understand the intertwined relationships between the threat of climate change on orphaned children, it is incumbent upon them to highlight to the general public that their support of orphan programs, whether through Penny Appeal, or others, has an impact that goes beyond the general understanding of what orphan support looks like. 

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