Climate change is an existential threat to all of humanity. Its impact on the children of Somalia provides insights into the severity of risks posed by climate change to current and future generations. Globally, there has been a continuous increase in mean annual temperatures since 1991 and scientists anticipate an increase of up to 4.3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. Concomitantly, Somalia has experienced a decrease in annual rainfall, resulting in recurrent droughts. According to the UN’s emergency aid coordination office, these droughts have grown in frequency and intensity over the past three decades, fueling increased frequency of famine and contributing to internal conflict and civil war. In this article, the impact of climate change on children, exemplified by the plight of Somali children, is viewed through the lens of cumulative adversity and related consequences of poverty on malnutrition, illness, disruptions of family systems, and displacement, with a diaspora around the globe. The paper promotes a multi-systems resilience framework that guides strategies for addressing the complex, cascading crises that accompany climate change, exploring the construct of resilience from the individual/interpersonal level through family systems and communities, including a reframing of the Somali diaspora. The paper concludes with a series of global transnational policy recommendations based on children’s rights, the promotion of resilience, and approaching climate change from a child sensitive perspective, encouraging youth engagement and leadership, along with peace-building.
Key Take Away Points
- Somalia in recent decades has experienced a decrease in annual rainfall, with recurrent droughts and subsequent famine as a result of climate change.
- Climate change has also contributed to internal conflict and civil war.
- As a result, Somali children experience cumulative adversity related to the consequences of poverty, malnutrition, illness, disruptions of family systems, and displacement, with a diaspora around the globe.
- A multi-systems resilience framework is proposed to addressing the complex, cascading crises that accompany climate change.
- Global transnational policy recommendations must must be grounded in children’s rights that approaches climate change from a child sensitive perspective, encouraging youth engagement and leadership, along with peace-building.
Charles Oberg is a Pediatrician and Professor Emeritus with the Global Pediatric Program at the University of Minnesota. He is international regarded for his work on the promotion of children's rights and the care for "Children on the Move". Hopewell Hodges is pursuing her PhD in clinical and developmental psychology at the Institute for Child Development. Her masters degree focused on post-violence literature and collective resilience practices. In the long term, she hopes to partner with communities of diverse cultural backgrounds to design more effective and culturally appropriate trauma treatments. Ann Masten is a Regents Professor, Irving B. Harris Professor of Child Development, Distinguished McKnight University Professor, Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota. Dr. Masten is internationally recognized for her seminal research in the development of competence and resilience in childhood. Her most recent work focuses on promoting a multi-systems resilience framework in the context of international conflict and disasters.
Oberg, Charles; Hodges, Hopewell; and Masten, Ann S.
"Risk and Resilience of Somali Children in the Context of Climate Change, Famine, and Conflict,"
Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk: Vol. 12:
1, Article 10.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.library.tmc.edu/childrenatrisk/vol12/iss1/10