The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says 78 million children in Nigeria are at the highest risk from a convergence of three water-related threats.
In a statement yesterday ahead of the United Nations Water Conference, UNICEF listed the threats as inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); related diseases and climate hazards.
Dr Jane Bevan, UNICEF Nigeria Chief of WASH, who signed the statement, called for urgent action to address the water crisis in Nigeria.
She said in Nigeria, one-third of children did not have access to at least basic water at home; while two-thirds did not have basic sanitation services.
“Hand hygiene is also limited, with three-quarters of children unable to wash their hands due to lack of water and soap at home. As a result, Nigeria is one of the 10 countries that carry the heaviest burden of child deaths from diseases caused by inadequate WASH such as diarrhoeal diseases,” she said.
She said Nigeria also ranked second out of 163 countries globally with the highest risk of exposure to climate and environmental threats.
She said groundwater levels were dropping, requiring some communities to dig wells twice as deep as just a decade ago.
She also noted that rainfall had become more erratic and intense, leading to floods contaminating scarce water supplies.