Children participate in headdress-making and drawing during the Earth Day celebration in Malabon City of the Philippines on April 22. (Photo: Save the Children)
A child-focused charity has called for the safety and welfare of children from 5.6 million poor families in the Philippines who are exposed to various risks and hazards from natural disasters.
While millions of poor remain vulnerable to frequent cyclones (15 this year), the ongoing eruption of the country’s most active volcano, Mayon, has increased risks for them, especially children, Save the Children Philippines said in a press statement on June 9.
The group pointed out that the Philippines ranked first in the 2022 World Risk Index with the highest risk of disasters in the world, and thus, “families living in poverty have less protection from the impacts of climate disasters and have less support and resources to adapt to climate-related change.”
During climate emergencies, many affected families find it hard to send their children to school or even access healthcare. Children suffer the most because they look for work to help augment their daily needs, the charity said.
Filipino girls are at greater risk of being abused, neglected, exploited, or subjected to child marriage.
“No child deserves to grow up in poverty and an unsafe environment. But the reality is grim. Millions of Filipino children remain poor due to inequality and discrimination, and their situation is exacerbated by the climate crisis,” said Albert Muyot, the CEO of the charity.
“Many of them lack access to basic services on health, education, proper nutrition, or adequate housing. Hence, our work for and with children also focuses on building the resilience of children and families from the negative impacts of the climate and inequality crises,” he added.
The charity said that to address the issue, it launched a child-led “Generation Hope [GH] Campaign” that asks the government and concerned sectors to prioritize actions that would contribute to a safer, fairer, and healthy environment for children.
The GH youth and children in Eastern Samar program areas held a symbolic paper boat activity to mark World Environment Day, on June 5.
The paper boat contained letters appealing to local and national leaders to adopt and implement environmental policies that protect their futures.
In partnership with the Department of Education, Save the Children Philippines deployed a holistic Disaster Risk Reduction Management Information System which implements the Comprehensive School Safety
The system safeguards schools and communities and ensures uninterrupted learning during disasters or other emergencies.
The charity said its study revealed that children born in 2020 in the Philippines will live through 4.9 times more scorching heat waves, 2.3 times more river floods, 1.2 times more droughts, and 1.5 times more crop failures than their grandparents or people born 60 years ago.
An estimated 774 million children – one-third of the world’s child population, including the Philippines – are living with the dual risks of poverty and high climate risk, another Save the Children study found.