‘Child marriage negative mechanism to cope extreme weather'

Preventing climate change to eliminate child marriageCourtesy

Extreme weather conditions exacerbate pre-existing vulnerabilities children are experiencing, including violence, trafficking, and abuse, said Elisa Calpona, child protection manager at UNICEF Bangladesh on Tuesday.

She further said that rising sea levels, riverbank erosion, increased rainfalls, and monsoon and cyclones had affected the communities causing internal displacement and loss of livelihoods, which makes children more vulnerable to violence and negative mechanisms like child marriage and child labour.

She put emphasis on a concerted action to ensure that root causes of child rights violations are tackled.

Elisa Calpona said this while addressing the closing ceremony of eco-friendly handcrafting, a project the women and children affairs ministry organised with the support of UNICEF, in Cox’s Bazar, an area impacted by monsoons, cyclones, and floods.

UNICEF in partnership with the government of Bangladesh has proposed children become agents of social change and to work with their communities on recycling and sustainable interventions, she added.

The project has conducted an innovative approach to prevent violence against children through the handicrafts initiative by addressing climate change.

Elisa Calpona said that Bangladesh ranked seventh on the list of countries most affected by climate-related hazards. Several studies document the linkage between child marriage and climate-related consequences, where child marriage becomes a negative coping mechanism for communities whose livelihoods have been affected.

Muhammad Shaheen Imran, deputy commissioner, was the chief guest at the event.

He said that the handicraft initiative is one of the great innovative programmes that help children make fun and acquire skills.

Project director of the Accelerating Protection for Children (APC) project, SM Latif, also joint secretary, MoWCA and Elisa Calpona, child protection manager at UNICEF Bangladesh talk to the participants

Shaheen Imran added that this initiative effectively allows children to express their emotions and creativity.

Thanking the MoWCA and UNICEF for taking this initiative, the deputy commissioner promised to extend his support in such future programmes to take place again in Cox’s Bazar.

The people of Cox’s Bazar face economic hardship due to climate disasters, putting children at risk of harmful practices like child labour, child marriage.

The project officials said the handicraft training will empower children and their families, reduce their dependence on desperate measures, and ultimately help protect children.

“Children have learned innovatively and sustainably how to make toys through recycled materials,” said the project director of the Accelerating Protection for Children (APC) project, SM Latif, also joint secretary, MoWCA.

He said, “The nationwide handicrafts training for CRF, CACO, CF, and PLs has been completed through the rigorous programme implementation for eight months long period time. UNICEF for the meaningful support and to Elisa Calpona, Child Protection Manager, UNICEF Bangladesh, for her leadership and innovative programmes introduced in the first phase of the national programme to end violence and child marriage from 2021 to 2024. The government of Bangladesh is looking forward to a second phase to boost the child protection system in Bangladesh.”

SM Latif chaired the event and explained that during the past eight months, the Bangladesh government with the support of UNICEF has developed capacity building on eco-friendly toy making.