As the devastating floods wreck havoc across Nigeria, United Nations Children Education Funds says 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.
The floods, which have affected 34 out of the 36 states in the country, UNICEF says have displaced 1.3 million people, with over 600 people loosing their lives and over 200,000 houses either partially or fully damaged.
In a statement, UNICEF says cases of diarrhoea and water-borne diseases, respiratory infection, and skin diseases have already been on the rise. It said 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 at 12 October.
It said 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,” said Cristian Munduate, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria.
“They are particularly at risk of waterborne diseases and emotional and psychological distress. UNICEF is working closely with the Government and other partners to provide life-saving assistance to those who are most in need” he explained.
The UN children body said the floods are adding another layer of complexity to an already precarious humanitarian situation in the country and immediate priority needs for children include health, water, sanitation, and hygiene; as well as shelter and food.
It stressed that 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.
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.
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.
UNICEF said to date, it has supported the government response in three affected States – Jigawa, Niger, and Kaduna, including through the provision of cash assistance, distribution of cholera kits, government-led mobile health teams, temporary learning centres and learning kits and cholera kits.