- UNICEF has said that 12,643 people in north east were affected by Cholera in 2018
- The organisation said that all odds are stacked against these children living in prolonged conflicts where clean and safe water source are hard to access
- It also said that over 3.6 million Nigerians are in dire need of adequate water, sanitation and hygiene services
Over 3.6 million Nigerians are in dire need of adequate water, sanitation and hygiene services, the United Nations International Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) has said.
The organisation said out of the 3.6 million Nigerians, 1.1 million of them are internally displaced persons who have fled their homes due to violence and conflicts in various parts of the country.
UNICEF's Nigeria Representative, Mohammed Fall, in a statement released on Friday, March 22, in commemoration of the 2018 World Water Day said many of the affected individuals are out of reach and in remote areas still ravaged by conflict.
The World Water Day is scheduled for March 22 with the 2019 theme: “Living no one behind”.
Fall said about 800,000 people are in hard-to-reach areas while 79% of these are children and women.
“In Nigeria, conflict has created huge challenges for people living in the north-east of the country, where violence has affected their ability to access water and sanitation, leading to diseases such as cholera,” Mohammed Fall said.
“More than 3.6 million people are in need of water, sanitation and hygiene services - 1.1 million of these are internally displaced (IDPs), having fled their homes due to violence and conflict. 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,” Fall added.
Following the lack of portable water in some of these hard-to-reach areas, UNICEF noted that children under the age of 15 who are living in countries affected by protracted conflict.
A report, "Water Under Fire" by UNICEF said, these children are, on average, almost three times more likely to die from diarrhoeal diseases caused by a lack of safe water, sanitation and hygiene than by direct violence.
The report which focuses on mortality rates in 16 countries going through prolonged conflicts states that, in most of these countries, children under the age of five are more than 20 times more likely to die from diarrheal-related deaths linked to lack of access to safe water and sanitation than direct violence.
A UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore all odds are stacked against these children living in prolonged conflicts where clean and safe water source are hard to access.
Fore said: “The reality is that there are more children who die from lack of access to safe water than by bullets."
"Deliberate attacks on water and sanitation are attacks on vulnerable children. Water is a basic right. It is a necessity for life," she said.
The report also said that in the north east Nigeria, 5,365 people were affected by cholera, with 61 dying in 2017, while 12,643 people were affected and 175 died of cholera in 2018.
According to its statement, UNICEF it is working to scale-up lifesaving responses, especially in IDP camps, to ensure quality and sustainability of WASH services and facilities, minimize the risk of WASH-related diseases, and to provide preventive measures against cholera and other water-borne diseases.
The statement said without safe and effective water, sanitation and hygiene services, children are at risk of malnutrition and preventable diseases including diarrhea, typhoid, cholera and polio.
These kind of situation particularly affect girls and make them vulnerable to sexual violence as they collect water or venture out to use latrines.
The statement said: "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," the statement said.
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Meanwhile, Legit.ng previously reported that the federal government has promised to end open defecation in Nigeria by 2030, the minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, said on Tuesday, March 13.
Mohammed said the federal government in collaboration with state governments is working to ensure that Nigerians practise safe and healthy defecation across the country.
Speaking during a media dialogue on water supply and sanitation sector reform project workshop, organized by the federal ministry of information in conjunction with UNICEF Nigeria in Jos, Plateau state capital city, Mohammed said efforts must be doubled to ensure an end to open defecation.
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