By Julie Ekong
The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, says with the necessary support, it will scale up response in other states by providing lifesaving medical equipment, essential medicines, chlorine to purify the water and sanitation supplies.
The UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Cristian Munduate, made this known in a statement expressing concern at the risks of waterborne diseases, emotional and psychological distress Children and adolescents are exposed to in the flood-affected areas.
According to the statement UNICEF is working closely with the Government and other partners to provide life-saving assistance to those who are most in need.
“The floods had affected 34 out of the 36 states in the country and displaced 1.3 million people. Over 600 people have died while not less than 200,000 houses had either been partially or fully damaged”.
The statement also says that, Cases of diarrhoea and water-borne diseases, respiratory infection, and skin diseases is on the increase.
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.
“More than 2.5 million people in Nigeria are in need of humanitarian assistance – 60 per cent of which are children – and are at increased risk of waterborne diseases, drowning and malnutrition due to the most severe flooding in the past decade, UNICEF warned”.
According to UNICEF’s Children’s Climate Risk Index (CCRI), Nigeria is considered at ‘extremely high risk’ of the impacts of climate change, ranking second out of 163 countries.
It says, the floods are adding another layer of complexity to an already precarious humanitarian situation in the country, adding that, Immediate priority needs for children include health, water, sanitation, and hygiene; as well as shelter and food.
Additional funding and resources are also required to respond to growing needs and to sustain ongoing humanitarian interventions, with a focus on the most vulnerable, including children with disabilities.
To date, UNICEF has supported the government response in three affected States – Jigawa, Niger, and Kaduna, it has also provided cash assistance, distribute cholera kits, government-led mobile health teams, temporary learning centres, learning kits and cholera kits.
UNICEF is also ready to support the prevention of and response to sexual and gender-based violence.