African youth reconsidering having children due to climate crisis

Almost of half of young people in Africa are reassessing their desire to have children as the effects of the climate crisis ravage the continent.

Results of a new poll from UNICEF, made up of 243,512 respondents, has shown that two in five young people around the globe are reconsidering whether it’s the right decision to have children.

This was clear in the Middle East and North Africa where 44% of participants said they were doing so, closely followed by Sub-Saharan Africa at 43%.

Here, respondents said they has already experienced a range of climate shocks which had impacted their access to food and water and their family’s income.

group of people walking at the road carrying containers

‘The impacts of climate change are with us now, but they are far more than floods, droughts and heatwaves. They extend to our very sense of hope,’ said Paloma Escudero, head of UNICEF’s COP27 delegation. ‘Especially in Africa, young people are seeing the impact these shocks are having on themselves and those they love and it is changing their plans for the future. But it doesn’t have to. At COP27, world leaders must listen to this anxiety from young people and take immediate action to protect them.’

Drought has imperilled the Horn of Africa, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without water and food, while analysis by Carbon Brief has shown 4,000 people have died due to extreme weather events in Africa since the start of 2022.

However, even elsewhere young people are re-evaluating their wish to start a family, as a Lancet study showed last year. 39% of 10,000 global respondents said they were hesitant to have children, a similar rate to UNICEF’s U-Report poll.

The U-Report also showed that over half had experienced drought or extreme heat, while one in 10 had experienced wildfires.

Two in five also reported having less to eat or drink due to the climate crisis, with 52% in Sub-Saharan Africa facing this, while three in five said they had considered moving to a different city or country to escape the effects of the emergency.

UNICEF is urging nations to plan how they will deliver funds to support climate adaptation and provide compensation for loss and damage.

‘There is a lot of talk about policy decisions, but that is not what is at stake here at COP27,’ said Escudero. ‘This survey makes it clear young people’s futures are up in the air – whether they have children, whether they leave their countries, how well they survive the dangers they face. For their sake, success at COP27 must be measured by the delivery of long-promised financing to help communities adapt and the development of solutions to respond to loss and damage.’

Photo by Jeff Ackley


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