The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has warned that with an estimated 2.5 million people in Nigeria needing humanitarian assistance, about 1.5 million of the population are children.
According to the Humanitarian Aid Organisation, these children stand the risk of water-borne diseases, drowning and malnutrition due to the most severe flooding in the past decade.
A statement by the UN agency explains that flooding, which has affected 34 out of the country’s 36 states, have displaced 1.3 million people, with cases of diarrhoea and water-borne diseases, respiratory infection, and skin diseases worryingly recorded.
It also said that 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 October 12.
UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Cristian Munduate, said “Children and adolescents in flood-affected areas are in an extremely vulnerable situation, and are particularly at risk of water-borne diseases and emotional and psychological distress.”
The statement further revealed that the floods are adding another layer of complexity to an already precarious humanitarian situation in the country, which calls for Immediate priority needs for children, including health, water, sanitation, and hygiene; as well as shelter and food.
It added that 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 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.