Over 1.5m Nigerian children at risk of health, education crisis over floods – UNICEF

There are growing fears from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) of over 1.5 million children’s education and health being jeopardized over recent flooding that has affected over 30 states in Nigeria.

Although climate change has partly been attributed to the flood constraints, more than 2.5 million citizens in Nigeria, with 60 percent being children, are believed to be in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

The flood situation in Nigeria has also compounded energy crisis, affecting the supply and distribution chains.

States such as Bayelsa, Kogi, Delta among other coastal communities are worst hit.

It was also reported that food crisis was imminent as most of the established farm settlements and communities are also affected.

The National Economic Council, NEC, meeting chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday in Abuja, deliberated on the flood situation and may in few days time constitute a steering committee to drive federal government’s intervention measures.

The presidency had also released a statement sympathizing with the people mostly affected by the situation.

Meanwhile, the UN intervention agency, UNICEF, also claims children and adults are mostly at risk of illnesses through waterborne diseases, drowning and malnutrition due to the most severe flooding in one decade.

Data released by UNICEF indicates that the floods, have affected 34 out of the 36 states in the country, displacing 1.3 million people. With over 600 people believed to have lost their lives and over 200,000 houses either partially or fully damaged.

It has also warned of dire consequences that may arise from cases of diarrhoea and water-borne diseases, respiratory infection, and skin diseases.

In the north-eastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe alone, a total of 7,485 cases of cholera and 319 associated deaths have been reported as of 12 October, 2022.

This comes, even as rains are expected to continue for several weeks, humanitarian needs are also expected to rise beyond the current situation.

“Children and adolescents in flood-affected areas are in an extremely vulnerable situation,” said Cristian Munduate, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria.

Munduate equally noted that beyond the waterborne diseases, the affected persons faces emotional and psychological distress.

The statement also revealed that UNICEF is working closely with the Government and other partners to provide life-saving assistance to those who are most in need.

It said the floods are adding another layer of complexity to an already precarious humanitarian situation in the country.

Where 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.

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.

The statement also added that UNICEF 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.

“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, as well as to support the prevention of and response to s3_xual and gender-based violence,” the UN agency stated.

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