The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Monday called on the Nigerian Government to rapidly increase investments in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector to reduce preventable diseases among 78 million children.
The UNICEF in a statement also called for urgent action to address the water crisis in Nigeria.
The statement quotes Dr Jane Bevan, UNICEF Nigeria Chief of WASH as saying that one-third of children do not have access to at least basic water at home, and two-thirds do 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.
“Nigeria also ranks second out of 163 countries globally with the highest risk of exposure to climate and environmental threats.
“Groundwater levels are also dropping, requiring some communities to dig wells twice as deep as just a decade ago.
“At the same time, rainfall has become more erratic and intense, leading to floods that contaminate scarce water supplies”.
The UNICEF said investments from global climate financing would strengthen climate resilience in the WASH sector and communities.
This, it noted would increase effective and accountable systems, coordination, and capacities to provide water and sanitation services, and implement the UN-Water SDG six Global Acceleration Framework.
“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.
“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”.
According to a new UNICEF analysis, 78 million children in Nigeria were at the highest risk from a convergence of three water-related threats – inadequate water, sanitation, and hygiene related diseases; and climate hazards.