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Weathering the Storm: Climate Shocks Threaten Children’s Skills and Learning But Social Protection Can Mitigate Impact


Children living in poverty in low- and middle income countries are bearing the brunt of worsening climate change and its impacts, affecting many areas of their lives such as health and nutrition, education, water and sanitation, and housing. 

This Policy Brief draws together Young Lives evidence on the impact of early climate shocks in particular on children’s basic skills and learning, finding that early exposure to droughts and floods has a profound impact on children's nutrition and physical growth, with long term consequences for their skills development, ability to learn and progress in school. 

Importantly, Young Lives evidence shows that these impacts are not irreversible or inevitable, and even more significantly, our new research finds that social protection, for example food aid, can mitigate these negative effects, reducing climate induced inequalities in skills development, learning and education, particularly for those living in the poorest households. 

The authors emphasise this is the first evidence showing the potential impact of social protection on improving children's foundational cognitive skills in low - and middle - income countries and stress the need to adapt and expand social protection programmes to better protect children from the negative effects of climate change and poverty and ultimately, improve children's skills development.