The effects of climate change in arid regions are mostly flooding, high winds, drought and famine, and heat waves, among others. The climate change challenges facing schools in arid and semi-arid regions are extreme. This article highlights some of the most common challenges, such as;
- Lack of clean
- Rare but severe floods damage learning infrastructure and disrupt access routes to schools.
- Heatwaves cause disorientation and heat strokes among children and adults.
- Drought and famine caused the deaths of people, children, and animals.
- Low levels of income among households limit learning resources as well as the number of children who can go to school in a family.
- High dropout rates in school.
- The high number of teenage pregnancies and early marriages
- Community conflicts result in increased hostility during droughts.
Extreme Water Scarcity
Water scarcity is among the leading climate change challenges facing schools and communities in arid and semi-arid regions, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. In a separate article, we have discussed water scarcity issues in the sub-Sahara region. Due to drought and very low rainfall, surface water is lacking, and underground water reservoirs are the most reliable water sources. In addition, the rare perennial rivers in these regions often recharge their shallow alluvial aquifers. However, when there is less rainfall to replenish, most shallow wells developed in these aquifers experience a lowering of water tables and some eventually dry up.
The situation becomes more catastrophic for the community in these regions, including schools, as they won’t access clean water for drinking and domestic use. Schools often suffer from double impacts. This is because most water points owned by the schools are shared with the neighboring communities. Whenever they find an alternative water supply to remedy the water shortage, such as water trucking, none is soon left in their storages as they cannot deny the water-starved populations the precious glass for drinking.
Another adverse effect of climate change is the unpredictability of weather patterns. It can either bring about heavy rainfall or none at all. However, both situations can result in flood events. Flood events resulting from high rainfall in the upstream catchments can cause destructive floods downstream where no rainfall was recorded.
Because these flash floods are unexpected, the massive loss of lives by the unprepared persons going about their daily business. Some got up within the scoop holes along the riverbeds looking for water and were buried in the sand. In most cases, children than adults go into the deep scoop holes (up to 2 m deep), following the declining yields.
Deaths of parents or other school children and, in some cases, teachers disrupt learning for several weeks. Not to mention the hundreds of homes being destroyed, school infrastructure as well as some of the water points’ infrastructure, are washed away.
Over the past years, the extreme rise in temperatures has caused more deaths and discomfort among the natives in arid areas. The frequency of heatwave events has made most schools in arid regions change their learning routines. For example, lessons have been squeezed within the morning hours to allow the learners to find cool places and shades in the afternoon when the temperatures are too high. The learning infrastructure has also been modified to be more open than closed to allow air circulation.
Another critical climate change challenge facing schools in arid regions is food insecurity. This challenge is most reported in the horn of Africa and includes greater East Africa. Its impact has been felt in the education sector, where children lack access to food, thereby affecting both their concentration during lessons as well as school attendance. Most schools receive food supplies from well-wishers, local NGOs, and government drought emergency programs.
Food insecurity has clearly accelerated poverty and social division, causing learners to end up dropping out of school and engaging in drug addiction due to desperation. However, in some cases, the availability of food in schools than in their homes is one of the reasons why most learners go to school.
Water-induced Health Issues
Climate Change has entirely affected human health in so many ways, through waterborne diseases (typhoid and cholera), air pollution extreme heat. An outbreak of any of these diseases in arid regions as a result of using unsecured water sources is often devastating.
In addition, limited water supply directly corresponds to limited sanitation infrastructure for both learners and teachers. Thus, generally high risks of poor health.
Do you think climate change can affect your class performance? Well, due to extreme weather events in arid regions, it is possible that poor performance often recorded by learners can be linked to it. Besides, the human brain works differently in varied spaces and can be affected by environmental conditions.
Therefore, a learner in ASALs can adapt and change their thoughts and reasoning about their environment either positively or negatively. For example, some can relent and drop out due to low grades or a few endeavors to be the source of change to a specific environmental problem, modeling their careers.
The most profound of the two is poor performance and dropout and subsequent dropout. However, from another angle, poor performance can also be linked to the above challenges, including teachers’ motivation and the general learning environment.
Climate Change has become a global problem than a regional one. Therefore, introducing such topics in schools will enable future generations to tackle and find better alternatives to reducing carbon emissions and allow the environment to improve. Besides, it’s also important to adopt necessary measures to reduce its effectiveness and help mitigate the climate change challenges facing schools in arid regions. One of the ways is to embrace new technologies and develop climate-resilient infrastructure to improve adaptation.
It is also high time to stress the importance of environmental conservation in the ASAls to remedy the situation at the local level. However, the world must focus on the ultimate goal of eliminating carbon emissions.