A new United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) report has warned that 78 million children in Nigeria are at high risk from a convergence of three water-related threats, arising from inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and climate hazards.
Consequently, the global agency charged government to urgently address the water crisis in Nigeria.
UNICEF Nigeria Chief of WASH, Dr. Jane Bevan, who made the disclosure yesterday in a statement ahead of the UN 2023 Water Conference in New York, holding from March 22 to 24, 2023, noted that one-third of children in Nigeria do not have access to water, while two-thirds do not have basic sanitation services.
She said hand hygiene was also limited, with three-quarters of children unable to wash their hands due to lack of water and soap at home.
Bevan named Nigeria among the 10 nations bearing heaviest burden of child deaths from diseases caused by inadequate WASH such as diarrhoea.
“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,” she said
The UNICEF official stressed the need to scale up investment in the sector, climate financing, strengthen climate resilience, improve accountability, coordination and capacities to provide water and sanitation services, besides implementing the UN-Water Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Six on Global Acceleration Framework.
The coming event, formally known as 2023 Conference for Mid-term Comprehensive Review of Implementation of the UN Decade for Action on Water and Sanitation (2018-2028), would result in a summary of proceedings from the UNGA President, Csaba Korosi, which will feed into the 2023 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.
The programme is to be co-hosted by Tajikistan and The Netherlands.