By Abimbola Ogunnaike
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has announced that no fewer than 78 million children in Nigeria are at the highest risk from a convergence of three water-related threats.
UNICEF stated this in a statement issued On Monday, 20 March 2023 ahead of the United Nations Water Conference.
The body listed the threats as inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); related diseases and climate hazards.
UNICEF Nigeria Chief of WASH, Dr Jane Bevan who signed the statement, called for urgent action to address the water crisis in Nigeria.
Bevan 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.
Bevan, who said Nigeria also ranked second out of 163 countries globally with the highest risk of exposure to climate and environmental threats, added that groundwater levels were dropping, requiring some communities to dig wells twice as deep as just a decade ago.
According to UNICEF boss in Nigeria, rainfall had become more erratic and intense, leading to floods contaminating scarce water supplies.