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Young voices on climate change

Dec 26, 2008

Child Voices: Children of Nepal Speak Out on Climate Change Adaptation offers an opportunity to hear young perspectives on climate change adaptation needs. This report finds children have clear knowledge on how to cope with adverse weather patterns and provides recommendations that uphold their rights in adaptation plans.

Child Voices: Children of Nepal Speak Out on Climate Change Adaptation

Publisher: Children in a Changing Climate, 2008

In 2008 Children in a Changing Climate’s research programme worked with ActionAid Nepal, and its partner organisations, to help poor children in the plains, hills and urban areas of Nepal make short films about how climate change is being experienced by their communities.

This report is based on the findings of the participatory video project and additional research with children in the project communities. It aims to provide an opportunity for children from three geographically diverse areas of Nepal to speak for themselves on their climate change adaptation needs.

Making these films allowed the children to explore how the changing climate is impacting them and their families, how they are coping and what they need in order to adapt to a changing climate.

For instance, the children noted an increase in waterborne diseases during the floods. “Over the last few years we have been suffering from eye infections. In the past, we only used to have these infections during the monsoon but these days we are also suffering from it during longer droughts. This infection makes it difficult for us to read and write, so it is harder for us to study,” says Sudan Rajbanshi, age 17, Bageshwari, Banke, Nepal.

The children identified impacts to their families’ livelihoods, their health, their education, their emotional wellbeing, and their access to water, as a result of floods, droughts and landslides, all caused by increasingly erratic and unpredictable weather patterns.

However, these children are not passive victims of climate change, and the research found that they and their families are already making changes to their lives in order to cope, but they face severe constraints like poverty, poor infrastructure and market access.

They know what additional support they need to adapt their lives to a changing climate: they need reforestation programmes, access to improved agricultural technologies, improved infrastructure, increased knowledge on climate change impacts, and good disaster prevention programmes.

This report makes a number of recommendations for upholding children’s rights in the context of climate change:

  • Children’s right to be heard: Children have a right to be heard at all levels, in their communities, and in climate change debates at national and international levels.
  • Children’s rights to adaptation: Life, safety, participation and development are the basic rights of children.
  • Children’s rights to education: Governments need to ensure, through scholarships, stipends or fee waivers that families do not take their children out of school as a coping strategy.
  • Adaptation plans should include the needs of children: Many developing countries, including Nepal, have or are preparing National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs). In order for NAPAs to be both effective and equitable, consultation, dialogues and discussions in various policy spaces must include the views and needs of children.
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