The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says there are 78 million children who are exposed to water-related crisis in Nigeria.
In a statement on Monday ahead of the 2023 UN water conference, Jane Bevan, UNICEF chief of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), said a new UNICEF report revealed that Nigeria ranked second out of 163 countries exposed to climate and environmental hazards.
Bevan said Nigeria also ranks second out of 163 countries globally with the highest risk of exposure to climate and environmental threats.
She added that groundwater levels are also dropping, requiring some communities to dig wells twice as deep as just a decade ago.
“As world leaders and relevant organisations convene for the UN 2023 water conference, I am calling for urgent action to address the water crisis in Nigeria,” Bevan said.
“78 million children in Nigeria are at the highest risk from a convergence of three water-related threats – inadequate water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH); related diseases; and climate hazards – according to a new UNICEF analysis.
“In Nigeria, 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.
“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.
“At the same time, rainfall has become more erratic and intense, leading to floods that contaminate scarce water supplies.
“I believe we need to rapidly scale-up investment in the sector, including from global climate financing, strengthen climate resilience in the WASH sector and communities, increase effective and accountable systems, coordination, and capacities to provide water and sanitation services, and implement the UN-Water SDG6 Global Acceleration Framework.”
Bevan asked the government to invest in water access in order to protect the children.