- UNICEF has said over 3.6 million do not have access to portable water in Nigeria
- According to the organisation's representative in Nigeria, violence people living in the northeast's ability to access water and sanitation
- The organisation added that about 800,000 IDPs are in areas that are difficult to reach because of conflicts
The United Nations International Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) has said over 3.6 million people lack access to potable water, sanitation and hygiene services in Nigeria.
UNICEF’s representative in the country, Mohamed Fall, made this known on Friday, March 22, in a statement to commemorate World Water Day scheduled for Friday, March 22, with the 2019 theme: “Living no one behind”, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
Fall identified 1.1 million as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) as a result of violence and conflict, noting that many of them are out-of-reach in remote areas still impacted by conflict.
“About 800,000 people are in hard-to-reach areas and 79 percent of these are children and women.
“In Nigeria, conflict has created huge challenges for people living in the northeast of the country, where violence has affected their ability to access water and sanitation, leading to diseases such as cholera.
“In the north-east 5,365 people were affected by cholera, with 61 dying in 2017, while 12,643 people were affected in 2018 and 175 died of the disease,” Fall said.
UNICEF executive director, Henrietta Fore, noted that children below the age of 15 in countries affected by protracted conflict on the average, are three times more likely to die from diarrhoea due to lack of access to WASH facilities than as a result of direct violence.
Fore, who quoted UNICEF’s latest report titled: “Water Under Fire”, said the odds were already stacked against children living through prolonged conflicts.
“The odds are already stacked against children living through prolonged conflicts with many unable to reach a safe water source.
“The reality is that there are more children who die from lack of access to safe water than by bullets,' she said.
Fore said that UNICEF has intensified efforts to scale-up life-saving responses, especially in IDP camps to ensure quality and sustainability of WASH services and facilities.
She further noted that the agency was also working to minimise the risk of WASH-related diseases and provide preventive measures against cholera and other water-borne diseases.
According to her, without safe and effective WASH services, children are at risk of malnutrition and preventable diseases including diarrhoea, typhoid, cholera and polio.
“Girls are particularly affected: they are vulnerable to sexual violence as they collect water or venture out to use latrines. They deal with affronts to their dignity as they bathe and manage menstrual hygiene.
“And they miss classes during menstruation if their schools have no suitable water and sanitation facilities.
“These threats are exacerbated during conflict when deliberate and indiscriminate attacks destroy infrastructure, injure personnel and cut off the power that keeps water, sanitation and hygiene systems running.
“Armed conflict also limits access to essential repair equipment and consumables such as fuel or chlorine - which can be depleted, rationed, diverted or blocked from delivery. Far too often, essential services are deliberately denied
“Deliberate attacks on water and sanitation are attacks on vulnerable children. Water is a basic right. It is a necessity for life,” she added.
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Meanwhile, Legit.ng previously reported that residents of Shooting Range, Kabala Doki in Kaduna metropolis have said they rely mainly on mobile water vendors due to the absence of potable water in the area in the past six years.
It was also reported that the mobile water vendors, popularly known as “mai-ruwa’’ sell water from door-to-door to households with pushcarts in the area.
Reports gathered from Kabala Doki area on Thursday, March 14, also said that although some of the residents have boreholes, most of the boreholes have either broken down or not working.
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