News ID: 252307
Published: 0614 GMT May 04, 2019

Deadly cyclones are on the rise and climate change is to blame

Deadly cyclones are on the rise and climate change is to blame
UNICEF

While Cyclone Fani is putting millions at risk in India and Bangladesh, Mozambique is still recovering from back-to-back cyclones that tore through the region in March and April, causing serious damage to the lives of thousands of children. These powerful storms should be an urgent wakeup call to world leaders on the grave risks that extreme weather events pose to the lives of children.

"We are witnessing a worrisome trend," said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF's Executive Director.

"Cyclones, droughts and other extreme weather events are increasing in frequency and intensity. As we have seen in Mozambique and elsewhere, poorer countries and communities are disproportionately affected. For children who are already vulnerable, the impact can be devastating."

According to forbes.com, Elizarda, 19, and her two children were trapped on a rooftop with nothing to eat for three days after Cyclone Kenneth hit Beira, Mozambique. They were rescued by helicopter and taken to an emergency accommodation center sponsored by UNICEF, where her youngest, 1-year-old Marques Antonio, was treated for malnutrition.

"I was so relieved, we were safe, but I was worried because my baby was sick," she said.

"I don't know what I can return to. We are farmers. We don't have money."

Cyclone Kenneth, the strongest storm ever recorded in Mozambique, damaged or destroyed at least 400 schools, affecting over 40,000 schoolchildren. A cholera outbreak was declared in Cabo Delgado, prompting an emergency immunization campaign.

Kenneth struck just six weeks after Cyclone Idai pummeled Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, affecting one million children. Thousands of families were forced out of their homes; at least 700 people lost their lives.

Meanwhile, 28 million people, including 10 million children, are in the path of Cyclone Fani. Some one million people have already been evacuated in preparation for what has been described as India's strongest cyclone since a 1999 storm killed 10,000 people.

Climate change is deepening the environmental threat faced by families in Bangladesh's poorest communities, leaving them unable to keep their children properly housed, fed, healthy and educated," said Fore.

"In Bangladesh and around the world, climate change has the potential to reverse many of the gains that countries have achieved in child survival and development."

"This is not business as usual," said Gautam Narasimhan, UNICEF Senior Advisor on Climate Change.

"Climate change is linked to rising sea levels and the increase in rainfall associated with cyclones, thus causing more devastation in coastal but also inland areas. In the short term, the most vulnerable children are at risk of drowning and landslides, deadly diseases including cholera and malaria, malnutrition from reduced agricultural production and psychological trauma — all of which are compounded when health centers and schools are impacted. In the long term, cycles of poverty can linger for years and limit the capacity of families and communities to adapt to climate change and to reduce the risk of disasters."

UNICEF works to curb the impact of extreme weather events in many ways, including:

 

● Designing water systems that can withstand cyclones and salt water contamination.

● Strengthening school structures and supporting preparedness drills

● Supporting community health systems in risk-prone areas

● Prepositioning supplies ahead of major weather events

   
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