Water-related crises threatening lives of 78m children, UNICEF

Water-related crises is threatening the lives of 78m children in Nigeria, says UNICEF.

The water-related crises identified by UNICEF include:inadequate water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH); related diseases; and climate hazards.

According to UNICEF in its 2023 analysis of water situation in Nigeria, access to clean and portable water remains daunting to millions of Nigerians particularly, children.

The agency noted, about a third of Nigerian children do not have access to at least basic water at home, and two-thirds do not have basic sanitation services.

Consequently, hand hygiene amongst children is limited, with three-quarters of all children unable to wash their hands after defecation due to lack of water and soap at home.

UNICEF in its analysis also noted that, Nigeria is one of the 10 countries that carry the heaviest burden of child deaths from diseases caused by inadequate WASH, such as diarrheal diseases.

Nigeria Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Dr. Jane Bevan in a statement to mark the water day, calls the attention of world leaders to the situation in the country.

She asked for immediate action in tackling the problem as the leaders meet for UN water conference, 2023.

Also, part of the crises facing the country, is its exposure to climate change and environmental challenges.

Nigeria ranks second out of 163 countries globally with the highest risk of exposure to climate and environmental threats.

Groundwater levels are dropping, requiring some communities to dig wells twice as deep as just a decade ago.

Contaminated water is the major cause of diseases amongst children.

At the same time, rainfall has become more erratic and intense, leading to floods that contaminate scarce water supplies.

The UNICEF global water situation analysis was pulled from the WHO/UNICEF joint monitoring programme on “Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2020:five years into the SDGs”, WHO’s “Death by cause,Age, Sex, by country and by Region, 2000-2019” and “UNICEF’s “The climate crisis is a Child’s Rights Crisis; Introducing The Children’s Climate Risk Index”.

According to Bevan, there is need to rapidly scale-up investment in the sector, including from global climate financing, strengthening climate resilience in the WASH sector and communities.

She equally advocates increasing effective and accountable systems, coordination, and capacities to provide water and sanitation services, and implement the UN-Water SDG6 Global Acceleration Framework.

Devan noted, “If we continue at the current pace, it will take 16 years to achieve access to safe water for all in Nigeria.

“We cannot wait that long, and the time to move quickly is now.

Potable Water Saves family from Diarrhoea

“Investing in climate-resilient water, sanitation, and hygiene services is not only a matter of protecting children’s health today, but also ensuring a sustainable future for generations to come”, said Devan

The ‘triple threat’ or ‘triple burden’ is defined as less than 50 per cent access to at least basic water or sanitation services; within the top 20 countries with the highest burden of deaths attributable to unsafe WASH among children under 5; and the top 25 per cent of countries facing the highest risk of climate and environmental hazards

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