WaterAid is deeply concerned about the cholera outbreak that has affected communities in several states in Nigeria, claiming over 3000 lives so far – especially affecting young children between 5 and 14 years old.
The numbers might be even higher, WaterAid said, as people in hard-to-reach areas have been affected as well, but they are not all included.
The organisation fears that the global climate crisis, which is likely to lead to more erratic rains and river floods, will increase the number and severity of these outbreaks, as there will be a higher risk of floods contaminating clean water sources.
“This recent outbreak has been the most lethal one in several years, considering the number of cases and death recorded so far”, Evelyn Mere, Country Director of WaterAid in Nigeria, said.
“It shows how important clean water and good sanitation and hygiene are to saving lives. Even though the rainy season is coming to an end, the outbreak is ongoing.”
WaterAid is working closely with the authorities in several states and at national level in the fight against cholera. It is intensifying the campaign against cholera through TV and Radio messages, focusing on the importance of access to safely managed toilets in households and public institutions and an end to open defecation while campaigning to improve handwashing habits.
WaterAid is also working continuously to influence Government at all levels to prioritize the access of communities to clean water.
According to an earlier report on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, only an estimated 16% of the population in Nigeria have access to basic hygiene services, 44% have access to basic sanitation and 46 million Nigerians still defecate in the open. Their waste is often washed away by rain, contaminating water sources like drinking wells, especially during raining season.
To tackle the challenge, the Nigerian government and donors need to step up their investment in the grossly underfunded water, sanitation and hygiene sector, which was declared to be in a state of emergency in 2018
Ms Mere continued:
“Improving living and sanitation conditions in a sustainable way is extremely important in the fight against diseases like cholera and the impacts of climate change – it will literally save thousands of lives. Communities need proper handwashing and sanitation facilities, and clean water sources that are at a distance from toilets so there’s no cross contamination.”