By Asmau Ahmad
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Friday warned that more than 1.5 million children were at increased risk of waterborne diseases, drowning and malnutrition, due to the devastating flood across the country.
UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Ms Cristian Munduate, in a statement in Kaduna said that more than 2.5 million people in Nigeria need humanitarian assistance due to the flood.
Munduate described the 2022 flood as the “most severe flooding” in the past decade.
She said that the floods, which have affected 34 out of the 36 states in the country, have displaced 1.3 million people.
She added that over 600 people have lost their lives and over 200,000 houses have either been partially or fully damaged.
“Cases of diarrhoea and water-borne diseases, respiratory infection, and skin diseases have already been on the rise.
“In the north-eastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe alone, a total of 7,485 cases of cholera and 319 associated deaths were reported as of 12 October.
“As rains are expected to continue for several weeks, humanitarian needs are also expected to rise.
“Children and adolescents in flood-affected areas are in an extremely vulnerable situation. They are particularly at risk of waterborne diseases and emotional and psychological distress,” she said.
She said that UNICEF was working closely with the government and other partners to provide life-saving assistance to those who are most in need.”
She added that the floods were adding another layer of complexity to an already precarious humanitarian situation in the country.
According to her, immediate priority needs for children include health, water, sanitation, and hygiene, as well as shelter and food.
“Additional funding and resources are required to respond to growing needs and to sustain ongoing humanitarian interventions, with a focus on the most vulnerable, including children with disabilities.
“Nigeria is considered at ‘extremely high risk’ of the impacts of climate change, ranking second out of 163 countries according to UNICEF’s Children’s Climate Risk Index (CCRI).”
The UNICEF representative also said that children in ‘extremely high risk’ countries face a deadly combination of exposure to multiple climate and environmental shocks combined with high levels of underlying child vulnerability.
This, according to her, is due to inadequate essential services, such as water and sanitation, healthcare, and education.
She said that UNICEF has supported the government response in three affected States – Jigawa, Niger, and Kaduna.
She identified some of the support to include the provision of cash assistance, distribution of cholera kits, government-led mobile health teams, temporary learning centres and learning kits and cholera kits.
“With additional support, UNICEF can scale up its response in other states to provide lifesaving medical equipment and essential medicines, chlorination of water and sanitation supplies.
“UNICEF will equally support the prevention of and response to sexual and gender-based violence,” she added.