From Fred Eze and Agaju Madugba, Katsina
The Country Office of the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has raised the alarm of a pending epidemic outbreak in Nigeria as a result of the devastating flood that had submerged several states in the country.
It stated that the ravaging floods have added another layer of complexity to an already precarious humanitarian situation in Nigeria, stressing that immediate priority is needed for children’s health, water, sanitation, and hygiene as well as shelter and food. The floods, according to UNICEF, has affected 34 out of the 36 states in the country with 1.3 million people displaced.
It added that over 600 people have lost their lives and over 200,000 houses are either partially or fully damaged, and as a result, cases of diarrhoea and water-borne diseases, respiratory infection, and skin diseases have already been on the rise.
UNICEF, in a warning issued on Friday, indicated that already Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states have recorded a total of 7,485 cases of cholera and 319 associated deaths as at October 12, 2022. The rains, it warned, are expected to continue for several weeks and humanitarian needs are expected to rise.
Soliciting urgent assistance in form of food and non-food items, from all levels of government including corporate organisations, its representative in Nigeria, Christian Munduate said that children and adolescents in affected areas are in an extremely vulnerable situation.
In a related development, the body in its Children’s Climate Risk Index (CCRI) report released on Friday ranked the country second out of 163 countries, with regard to the impact of climate change.
According to UNICEF, 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, due to inadequate essential services, such as water and sanitation, healthcare and education.
The report also indicated that more than 1.5 million children are at risk as devastating floods hit parts of the country. More than 2.5 million people in Nigeria are in need of humanitarian assistance – 60 per cent of which are children, the report added.