1 Children in Malawi and Zambia are calling on their governments to change the school calendar and close for the winter months of June and July as climate change brings colder temperatures leaving students unable to concentrate and missing classes, Save the Children said today.
3 However, changes in the weather have made winters increasingly cold and children want the holidays to come earlier so they can stay at home where they have a better chance of staying warm.
4 Average temperatures in June and July in the two countries range between 9°C and 23°C**.
5 Although in many parts of the world they are not considered frosty, the nations of southern Africa are not used to such temperatures, and houses and schools are not built with adequate heating or insulation.
6 While winter weather data in Zambia and Malawi is sparse, in southern Africa there has been an increase in the frequency of extreme cold events induced by changes in regional weather patterns, such as the number of cold fronts moving over South Africa.
8 Since the start of winter in June, children in southern African countries have complained that extremely cold days take a toll on their lives and prevent them from enjoying their right to education.
9 Faith, 13, a child rights activist from Malawi, is passionate about climate change and how it is affecting children.
10 She told Save the Children that she has noticed a change in the weather pattern in recent years.
11 “The cold was there, but it was not like the one we are experiencing now.
12 It was cold, of course, but sometimes the sun could be there.
13 But this cold that we are going through… it is difficult to bear.” Malawi and Zambia are among the countries most vulnerable to climate change, and the full impact of the climate crisis is already being felt in the form of extreme weather events such as droughts, floods and landslides.
14 They also topped the list of unreported global crises in 2021.
15 Earlier this year, Save the Children said that Zambia is experiencing a slow and silent climate crisis that has pushed around 13% of the population into severe food shortages.
16 , with 1.58 million people, including an estimated 821,000 children, facing an unreported environmental disaster, including late rains, prolonged droughts, extremely high temperatures, devastating insect swarms and floods.
17 In Malawi, a third of the population (5.4 million people out of 16.6 million) is on the brink of extreme hunger driven by poverty and climate change-induced food system crises.
18 But while parents struggle to feed their families, kids like Faith struggle to stay sharp in class and keep their dreams alive.
19 Faith said: *“Climate change is affecting me a lot because I am skipping classes and my right to education is affected because I am not enjoying my education like I used to.
20 And another thing that is affecting is my right of aspiration and inspiration of what I want to become… I want to become the president of Malawi.
21 * “It is a cold season, of course, but the cold goes further because it reaches the point where the children do not go to school and I am learning in a boarding school.
22 And then it happens that we have to take a bath with cold water.
23 It’s too much for us, so we skip classes at some point.”
24 Pohamba, 14, lives with her mother and brother in Lusaka, Zambia.
25 She said she has noticed a rapid change in the weather pattern that is affecting the children in many ways, including those living with disabilities like him “In Zambia, the weather patterns have really changed…* maybe since seven years ago.
26 I was young, but I still have a little memory of what was happening**.
27 When it was raining, it wasn’t raining like it is raining now.
28 And when it’s summer, it wasn’t that hot.
29 The climate **right now **is *just changing.
30 “People who have disabilities are affected by climate change in a lot of ways.
31 When it comes to school, like I said, it’s cold or it’s too hot and it’s hard to concentrate.
32 They (extreme weather events) could get worse if they don’t we started to treat our environment in the right way.
33 Jo Musonda, Country Director for Save the Children in Zambia, said: “The * Extreme weather conditions, including cold seasons, have become common in southern Africa and a cause for concern for families and children.
34 Save the Children supports children in their quest to have the school calendar overhauled and we will heed this call and include it in our ongoing advocacy and dialogue with the Ministry of Education and look forward to positive outcomes for children.”* Country Director of Save the Children in Malawi, Kim Koch, said: “We know that climate change affects children first and worst and prevents them from enjoying their basic rights, including the right to education.
35 As the number of weather-related disasters has tripled in the last 30 years, frequent and recurring weather shocks such as floods and cyclones are repeatedly endangering the lives and dreams of children, our future generation.
36 “We call on African governments and world leaders to listen to children and give them a seat at the table in decisions that affect their lives now and in the future.”
37 Save the Children has been working in Zambia for almost 40 years, running health, nutrition, education and protection programs across the country.
38 In response to the climate crisis, Save the Children is supporting children and their families affected by drought and floods, providing educational support, emergency cash and voucher assistance, and school feeding programmes.
39 In Malawi, Save the Children works in 25 of 28 districts, delivering programmes, advocating for children’s rights and building capacity to respond to emergencies.
40 Through its partners, Save the Children is empowering children to become child rights advocates and supports advocacy on a range of issues affecting children in Zambia and Malawi, including climate change.