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Children in Bangladesh Bear Brunt of Sweltering Heat as Schools Close

ANM Desk

In a scorching heat wave sweeping Bangladesh, all schools have been shut down, leaving 33 million children affected. Temperatures have surged to a blistering 42°C (108°F), a staggering 16 degrees above the yearly average. This marks the second consecutive year of school closures due to extreme heat, echoing similar shutdowns in the Philippines and South Sudan. The dire situation underscores the escalating threat the climate crisis poses to children’s rights worldwide.


Climate Crisis Hits Home: Vulnerability of Bangladesh

Bangladesh stands as one of the countries most vulnerable to the relentless impacts of the climate crisis. Ranked seventh on the Global Climate Risk Index for 2021, this low-lying nation grapples with a myriad of natural disasters. From frequent tropical cyclones to devastating floods and coastal erosion, Bangladesh faces an uphill battle against nature’s fury. Last year’s unprecedented dengue outbreak, claiming over 1,000 lives, shed light on the climate crisis’s role in exacerbating health emergencies. Experts attributed the outbreak to erratic weather patterns spurred by the climate crisis and El Nino, resulting in an exceptionally wet monsoon season.


Rising Temperatures, Rising Concerns

Rising temperatures fuel extreme heatwaves and droughts across Bangladesh, prompting the government to close primary and secondary schools last June. With 33 million out of 54 million children enrolled in school, the closures have a profound impact on education and child well-being. Alarmingly, more than 1 billion children worldwide, half of the global child population, reside in countries highly susceptible to climate change’s effects. Children living in poverty face heightened vulnerability, with one-third of the world’s child population bearing the brunt of poverty and high climate risk simultaneously.


Response Amidst Adversity

As temperatures soar, Bangladesh’s health ministry issues guidelines to mitigate heat-related risks, urging citizens to stay hydrated and seek shade. Save the Children steps in to address the crisis, distributing safe drinking water in hotspots and conducting awareness campaigns for children and parents. Health advisory messages, disseminated through posters and leaflets, aim to educate communities on coping strategies. In drought-prone regions like the northwestern Kurigram district, Save the Children provides vital support to farmers, distributing drought-tolerant seeds and demonstrating irrigation techniques. Cash assistance reaches 120 vulnerable families, offering a lifeline amidst adversity.

The year 2023 marked the planet’s hottest year on record, with temperatures soaring 1.18°C (2.12°F) above the 20th-century average. This alarming trend underscores the urgent need for collective action to combat the climate crisis. Save the Children, with over 50 years of presence in Bangladesh, collaborates with government agencies, civil society organizations, and businesses. They do so to respond to emergencies, implement development programs, and amplify children’s voices through advocacy efforts. Together, they strive to pave the way for a brighter, more sustainable future for the children of Bangladesh and beyond.

As Bangladesh grapples with the devastating impacts of extreme heat, the plight of its children serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for climate action. With communities reeling from successive climate-induced disasters, concerted efforts are imperative to safeguard children’s rights and well-being. Through resilience, innovation, and collaboration, organizations like Save the Children offer hope amidst adversity. They work tirelessly to build a more resilient and sustainable future for generations to come.

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