Supporting child-centred resilience to climate impacts

IIED is undertaking research to assess the effectiveness of child-centred community-based adaptation: What works where, why – and what needs to be done differently?

March 2021 - ongoing
Ritu Bharadwaj

Principal researcher (climate governance and finance team), Climate Change

Climate-resilient development
A programme of work showing how IIED is supporting governments, civil society and communities to achieve climate-resilient development outcomes for the most vulnerable people
Two children in a flooded field.

Bangladesh is prone to annual flooding, brought on by the monsoon season (Photo: Amir Jina via FlickrCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The climate crisis threatens children around the world. The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, estimates that one billion children are at ‘extremely high risk’ of the impacts of the climate crisis.

The impacts of climate change disproportionately affect children. Children are physiologically less able to withstand many impacts; they are especially vulnerable to extreme heat, dehydration and poor air quality. They are more susceptible to the diseases that will occur more frequently under climate change, including malaria, dengue and diarrhoea.

At times of greater food insecurity, children are more at risk from hunger and malnutrition.  As climate change creates more humanitarian crises, children are more likely to suffer family separation and displacement, homelessness, poverty and loss of education and development opportunities. Climate shocks and social and political disruptions can also weaken the social and familial safety nets that ensure children’s protection, resulting in a greater risk of exploitation.

All these impacts are more pronounced for children in the least developed countries and Small Island Developing States, many of which are fragile states with poor infrastructure and weak governance and at greater risk of conflict. These nations' capacity to prepare for and adapt to the effects of climate change is low.

Consequently, they are less able to protect children from climate risks. Without urgent action, the development and future wellbeing of children in these countries are at risk.

Child-centred adaptation to climate change

Between 2012 and 2021, the NGO Save the Children delivered a project that was designed to strengthen climate resilience in Bangladesh by involving young people in action on climate change.

The Integrated Child-Centred Community-Based Adaptation (ICCCCA) project supported young people and their communities to anticipate, plan for and adapt to climate change impacts in their local communities.

The project focused on child-centred disaster risk reduction activities in three locations: one urban, one semi-rural and one rural.  It aimed to incorporate children's participation in community-led resilience activities and also sought to integrate gender and disability-related perspectives.

What is IIED doing?

IIED is undertaking research to establish an evidence base on the effectiveness of child-centred community-based adaptation actions, both in terms of impact and uptake. This assessment will be used to prioritise the most effective adaptation actions for which detailed assessments will be carried out on cost-effectiveness, scalability, sustainability, contextual relevance, innovativeness and gendered differentiated impact.

Actions will be assessed based on:

  • What has worked in terms of access and impact (strong performance on outcomes)
  • Where (in different contexts)
  • For whom (disaggregation of beneficiary types where actions have been effective), and
  • How (what processes, approaches and strategies were used).

This research will inform the design and delivery of existing and future projects aimed at child-centred climate risk management. The study will enhance understanding of what is working well, what are the gaps in existing strategies and how the current programming strategies need to be modified by governments, development agencies, NGOs and civil society.

The findings will also inform the development of future community-based adaptation projects, particularly in context of least developed countries.