The social and economic impacts of climate change are making it more difficult for children in poverty to experience their basic human rights, including those related to food, health, water and housing.

People experiencing poverty are on the frontlines of climate change, being among the first and worst impacted by environmental degradation. Temperature and weather extremes are hitting hardest in places where food and water are already limited, like in sub-Saharan Africa and low-lying countries in the Pacific. What’s more, people living in poverty often have limited resources for adapting to climate-related hazards, such as insurance, a warm, dry home, and a full pantry. This means that communities are less able to bounce back when disaster strikes.

For children in poverty, climate change makes life even harder and more dangerous. Children are less able to protect themselves from extreme weather events and are more susceptible to disease, famine and drought. Families may need to migrate elsewhere, take their children out of school, and/or get them to help at home. In some cases, families must resort to child marriage or child labour just to survive. Children often do not get to have a say in such decisions, which can lead to situations that make them more vulnerable to climate change.
Climate change is already impacting the lives and livelihoods of our Pacific neighbours. Coastal infrastructure and land is being damaged, there are more intense cyclones and droughts, crops and coastal fisheries that families rely on are being impacted, alongside coral reefs and mangroves that support the ecosystems on which families rely for food and shelter.

Our Pacific partners have shared stories with us about failing crops as the soil becomes too salty, islands where they grew up slowly eroding away, and sudden and severe cyclones uprooting their families’ graves. People don’t want to move to other countries and see climate migration as a last resort. However, some communities must already relocate their homes further inland to protect their lives and livelihoods.

Future generations of Pacific children are particularly at risk of harm from these environmental changes. Pacific children are at greatest risk of the impacts of climate change on food supply. Malnutrition, diarrhoeal disease and malaria will likely increase because of climate change.

On top of this, relocating or migrating elsewhere disrupts children’s connections to their identities. Being connected to their ancestral lands is important for children’s cultural and spiritual well-being. However, some low-lying countries and islands are at risk of disappearing completely due to rising sea levels. If they do have to leave, community elders are worried that their grandchildren will lose touch with their identity, language and cultural heritage, which are treasures to protect.
World Vision is working to tackle climate change through the work we do with communities in our Area Programmes as well as by advocating for governments to accelerate climate action.

 We are committed to helping communities prepare themselves for climate change. Our work is focused on building communities’ resilience to the effects of climate change, for example through disaster preparedness, planning and improving food and water security measures. Our re-greening communities programme supports communities to identify their main climate risks and develop action plans. In this, community members form committees to determine which natural environments need restoration and develop strategies to ensure their protection. We also partner with families to build their financial resilience (e.g., through savings groups, starting eco-friendly small businesses) so that they can withstand and recover from extreme weather events.

We also work to increase environment-enhancing development activities such as reforestation, agro-forestry, and conservation farming in World Vision’s programmes, all of which reduce harmful greenhouse gases. For example, we are expanding our farmer-managed natural regeneration (FMNR) programme, with the goal of restoring 1 billion hectares of forest. FMNR is about working with local communities to unlock the hidden potential of existing root systems in places where forest has been cleared. Through careful cultivation, FMNR helps forests to regrow, which improves soil fertility, water retention, and stores carbon, creating climate-resilient communities.

At the same time, World Vision advocates with governments to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and fulfil their climate-related commitments under the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals. The focus of our next advocacy campaign is related to climate change (watch this space!). World Vision also upskills communities to advocate with their governments about climate change and increase their voice in climate action and planning.
There is no one size fits all approach to climate action. We work with children and their communities to develop locally led solutions that will last.
  • An example is Chauk community, which lies in the ‘dry zone’ of Myanmar and is prone to fires and flooding. Disaster Preparedness Plans have been established in 19 communities to improve their preparedness and resilience, including through an early warning system and the establishment of freshwater tanks. 
  • World Vision is working with farmers in Timor-Leste to restore previously unusable land, to increase resilience to climate-induced shocks. Communities used to employ a ‘slash and burn’ practice to maintain soil fertility, meaning they would indiscriminately burn wood from the forest. As a consequence, soil quality has been degraded and forest cover reduced. With the support of World Vision’s Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) programme, farmer groups are now learning how to regenerate trees and shrubs from the ‘underground forest’ of living tree stumps and roots, breathing life back into original land cover.
  • In Ethiopia, a trial run by World Vision saw 2,500 fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly stoves distributed to a community. Local women were chosen to participate in the project and trained in how to make the stoves and run their own businesses. The evaluation showed the stoves reduced the amount of carbon monoxide released during cooking by up to 53%, and that the amount of firewood needed was reduced by up to 49%. Community members said they also noticed a dramatic reduction in the time spent collecting firewood and their children missed less school.
  • In Senetwo, Kenya, World Vision is implementing its FMNR programme alongside local farmers. Senetwo is prone to drought due to the impacts of climate change, the impacts of which are worse for people living with disabilities. Through FMNR, World Vision is training smallholder farmers and pastorialists with disabilities to regenerate living root systems on their lands to regrow them into mature trees, boosting soil fertility and soil moisture. Disabled farmers say that FMNR offers a sustainable solution to drought that allows them to better provide for their families during the dry season without needing to rely upon others.