Our Programmes



Sign up to our newsletter.

Follow ODI

Climate extremes and child rights in South Asia: a neglected priority

Briefing/policy papers

Written by Katie Peters

The links between climate change and disasters in South Asia, such as flooding in Pakistan or cyclones in Bangladesh, are increasingly evident.
However, there is little recognition of the potentially life-long impact of climate change and related disasters on the wellbeing of the region’s children.

In a region that accounts for more than one quarter of the world’s children, with 614 million children under 18, girls and boys must receive greater priority in measures to respond to disasters and in disaster risk reduction planning.

Some positive examples are emerging, including the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation’s Framework for Care, Protection and Participation of Children in Disasters, which recognises the different needs of girls and boys of varying age groups. In addition, the ‘Step Up Campaign’ for Disasters Resilience, developed by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) prioritised children for the 2011 International Day for Disaster Reduction, and women and girls for 2012. But these initiatives have yet to influence appropriate action at the local level. To help this process and to highlight specific priority areas for policy, Plan International has studied how girls and boys in South Asia perceive and experience climate extremes and disasters. This project briefing presents the findings and policy implications.

Key points:

  • Children affected by climate related disasters in South Asia report post-disaster gender-based violence, child labour, family break-ups and barriers to their development and learning
  • Child protection issues are rarely prioritised in policies to reduce disaster risk or adapt to climate change
  • Disaster risk management and climate change adaptation policies must tailor interventions to address critical aspects of child rights, particularly child protection and education.
Katie Harris and Kelly Hawrylyshyn