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Girl in Bangladesh stands in the midst of floods where her village used to be

How does climate change affect poverty?

Climate change both contributes to poverty, and most hurts those already poor.

Children all over suffer from the effects of climate change. But, as with so many issues, those who are already poor suffer the worst effects, despite often having the least to do with causing climate change in the first place.

We see this injustice reflected all over the world. In the UK, children who live in poverty are more likely to live in and go to school in areas with poor air quality and pollution, which can mean major consequences not just in their childhood but through the rest of their lives.

The link between climate change and poverty

Climate change is a ‘threat multiplier'. It creates more uncertainty around seasons, rainfall and droughts, making it harder for small-scale farmers to secure a stable livelihood as it increases the difficulty of planning and adapting crops or livestock expansion - trapping them in a cycle of poverty.

The link between climate change and poverty is particularly stark in poorer areas of the world. Climate change causes disasters like droughts and floods, and people and communities who are poorer are less likely to be able to prepare for such events. This means the effects are worse, poverty worsens, and the cycle continues.

In such disasters, children are often the most vulnerable. Here, children around the world share their stories of how climate change has affected their lives.

Through Child Sponsorship, you can support children vulnerable to being impacted by climate change, and help them, their families and communities to build resilience so that they can be protected from the worst impacts of climate change.

How Child Sponsorship tackles the poverty and climate change link

If you choose to sponsor a child, you can change the lives of children most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

We work together with communities to tackle the root causes of poverty and vulnerability. We talk with local leaders and families to understand their struggles and the areas where they most need support. Where these are either directly caused by, or impacted by the effects of climate change, we work with the community to identify how we can support them now and for the future - whether that is through education, infrastructure or income resilience.

We create and implement a plan to transform the community into a safe place - now and for the future. This maximises the impact of your sponsorship – empowering communities to break free from poverty and become self-sustaining. 

How climate change stole Timothy’s future

As well as working to prevent climate change pushing children into poverty, we also support people when they have already been affected.

In the below picture, Timothy is standing on the island that he would have grown up on had it not been for climate change.

His grandmother, Mae (right) and Loretta, (left), used to live on the island but rising sea levels and increasingly unpredictable cyclone seasons meant they were forced to leave when Timothy was only a baby.

Three generations of a family stand on the island in Solomon Islands that would have been their home were it not for climate change
"Three families once lived here. There were 20 of us. The sea has already washed so much away. I really miss life on the island."

The island is now tiny, less that half the size it used to be. The graves of their ancestors used to be at the centre of the island and now the waves reach the graves. The graves were damaged and the remains of the people inside were washed away. The family feels very sad about this. In local culture, many people don't want to leave their islands because they feel guilty about abandoning the graves of their loved ones.

We support families like Timothy when they need us most, forced to flee their homes because of a cyclone or another climate-related disaster.

You can support this emergency work via our Childhood Rescue fund. 

Learn more about our work