Climate change and its links to Mental Health among the adolescents

Kenya Adolescents And Planetary Health

How does water, sanitation and food insecurity affect the very young adolescents, ranging from 10 to 14 years? Do they have lived experiences they can share on how they are affected Health-wise, mentally, socially, and academically by climate change?

Yes, they do have lived experiences to share and it is important to listen to their voice. However, there is key knowledge gap on how these small ones are affected by climate change.

In partnership with the University of Toronto and Centre for the Study of Adolescence (CSA), Elim Trust has embarked on a new participatory mapping study that is looking at how water, sanitation and food insecurity affect the very young adolescents in Kenya.

The young adolescents’ voices and stories are being captured through walk-along interviews, where meaningful and relevant images to them are also captured. Sharing their stories and experiences on how on water, sanitation, and food insecurity affect their day-to-day living has been an eye opener.

“This is the first time I am doing walk-along interviews and they have opened my eyes to….”says Clara Gachoki, the program director.

  • “The study will be quite rich because of the diverse geographical sites for this study”, says the Elim Trust Director, Dr. Julia Kagunda.

The study sites include a) Kalobeyei Refugee Settlement; b) rural and peri-urban areas outside of Kisumu; c) nomadic and pastoralist communities in Isiolo, North-East Kenya; d) urban informal settlements in Nairobi; e) flower farm worker and internally displaced families on Lake Naivasha; and (f) Kilifi coastal smallholder farming communities.

Emphasizing the importance of this study, Mercy, one of the researchers with Elim, says that lived experiences of adolescents, especially at the nexus of climate change are understudied.

Further, the study will further be enriched as elders’ knowledge and lived experiences of adapting to climate change are incorporated. They have also brought in rich views on how water, sanitation and food insecurity affect the young adolescent.

This study will play a critical role in informing policy and practice on how to incorporate and support the young adolescents in climate change dialogue.