The 6 Biggest Challenges Facing Children in 2022

Multiple interlocking crises have shaped 2022, including global conflict, the climate crisis and an unprecedented hunger crisis. People all the world over were hoping that this year would herald the start of a better era after two years of a global pandemic that has set a record rise in child poverty, tested health systems to their limits and is increasingly shaping politics. 

With your help, Save the Children has worked tirelessly to build a better future for children around the world. 

Civilians are seen after a missile struck a residential building during Russia's military intervention in left bank Kyiv, Ukraine on February 25, 2022 | Photo credit: Wolfgang Schwan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images 

1. Children Living in Conflict Zones

Nearly 200 million children are living in the world’s most lethal war zones, the highest number in over a decade - and a 20% rise from 162 million a year ago.

Many of these children are already on the frontline of climate change and battling life-threatening hunger crises.

This spike was driven partly by outbreaks of violence in Mozambique, as well as ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan, the DRCNigeria, and Yemen, which are already on the frontline of climate change's worst impacts and coping with life-threatening hunger crises.

Today in Ukraine, at least 7.5 million children are in grave danger of physical harm, severe emotional distress and displacement due to conflict. 


In Afghanistan, Dr. Sadat*, a Team Leader of Save the Children's mobile health clinics, examines a nine-month-old child for malnutrition. Photo credit: Dan Stewart/ Save the Children 

2. Unprecedented Global Hunger 

Over 2021, a perfect storm of COVID, conflict and climate change pushed millions more children into malnutrition. In 2022, an estimated two million children under the age of five will die of hunger-related causes.

There's no vaccine for hunger, but here is a solution if we act now. Save the Children is already working around the world to support families with food, cash and supplies, so children don't go hungry, now or in the future. 

Across the nation, 30 million students like five-year old Alexa rely on school for both learning and meals. Photo credit: Victoria Zegler | Save the Children 

3. Two Years of Disrupted Education

Worldwide, an estimated 117 million kids are still out of school due to COVID-19. This is on top of 260 million children who were out of school even before the pandemic.

The longer children are out of school, the less likely it is that they will re-enroll, with girls at particular risk of dropping out, often in order to marry.

Sahra* lives with family and her family were forced to leave their home in 2017 when the majority of their livestock perished in a severe drought. Without their livestock, Sahra’s family has struggled to recover. Photo credit: Sacha Myers / Save the Children 

4. Climate Change

Children’s lives today and in the future are under threat from the climate crisis. The number of climate-related disasters has tripled in the past 30 years. 

Every child will now inherit a planet with more severe and with more frequent extreme weather events than ever before because of a failure of past generations to protect their rights and their future.

The climate crisis is threatening their right to a safe home and community, to healthcare, to food and to learning. Children are demanding more from world leaders and it’s time we listen. Their lives and futures are at stake.  

5. Children Crossing Borders

More children have been forcibly displaced today than at any time since World War Two.

Between 2005 and 2020, the number of child refugees under UNHCR mandate more than doubled from four million to around 10 million. Images of children crossing borders or dying in the process have regularly moved publics and occasionally shifted policies.

With the flow of desperate families seeking sanctuary showing no sign of abating, the question in 2022 is whether children can expect to be met with rods or ropes as they journey towards safety.

Photo credit: Sami M. Jassar / Save the Children

6. Child Mortality Due to COVID-19

There have been dramatic reductions in child mortality rates over the last 30 years, falling by almost 60% since 1990. However, the unprecedented demands made on health services around the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic have caused diseases which were previously in decline to resurge.

Deaths from malaria, previously on a long-term downward trajectory, have increased in 32 countries since the start of the pandemic. There is a very real chance that child mortality will increase in 2022 for the first time in decades, representing a disastrous reversal for child health globally.

That said, recent breakthroughs such as the world’s first effective Malaria vaccine offer hope that advances in vaccines stimulated by the pandemic might benefit children in the long-term

Children need you now more than ever

Right now, children are living through a global pandemic against the backdrop of hunger, conflict and natural disasters. Your gift today can help make change that protects the lives of children, families and their communities.


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