Most of the victims of disasters induced by climate change are children, according to 2079-80 BS police data. 3244 children suffered from natural disasters such as epidemics, snowfall, cold waves, flooding and landslides, storms, and fires caused by climate change. Of the total victimized children, 92.29 percent were girls. For instance, a total of 767 children including 79 boys and 688 girls died in disasters. Similarly, 2,343 children including 167 boys and 2,176 girls were injured, and 134 children including four boys and 130 girls went missing.
Children are not only emotionally vulnerable to the effects of disaster. As catastrophic events have repeatedly and tragically demonstrated, children are also among those most at risk for illness, injury, and death. According to data by Oxfam International, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami claimed the lives of at least 60,000 children. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that disasters affect children differently than they do adults since their bodies are different from adults’ bodies. Children suffer more severe physical effects from disasters because they breathe more air per pound of their weight, have thinner skin, are at greater risk of cases of fluid loss, and are more likely to lose body heat. Children also put their hands in their mouths more often than adults do.
In Nepal, according to a 2019 research paper published by UN Women and UNICEF, after the 2015 earthquake, the water supply systems were affected; 220,000 toilets were partially or totally destroyed. For example, Sindhupalchowk had almost achieved 95% toilet coverage before the earthquake; the earthquake destroyed 80% of toilets. This led to an increased risk of disease transmission, and children were particularly at risk of diarrhea and cholera.
Sociologist Lori Peek in a 2008 journal article published on Children, Youth, and Environments states that the research available on children’s risk for physical injury or loss of life in disasters, particularly in developing nations, has concluded that people residing in hazard-prone regions in poorer countries and communities, living in and going to school built with substandard structures, experiencing malnutrition and poor diet – perhaps due to losing or becoming separated from family members – are factors that contribute to children being more vulnerable during or after natural disaster events. Research done by Ramirez et al in 2005 directly indicates that female children are at higher risk of death. The World Bank states that poverty and gender norms shape basic survival capabilities, and according to an Oxfam survey, four times as many women than men were killed in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and India during the 2004 tsunami because men were taught how to swim and climb trees at young ages, while women were not.
The data on how different socio-economic factors in Nepal affect children to the point of causing disproportionate injury and deaths among girls under 18 compared to the greater demographic is much needed. While international research has shown this to be a prevalent issue in developing nations as a whole, for us to come to a concrete ground on why this is the case in Nepal needs its own research – one which seems to be presently lacking.