3.6 million lack basic water supply in Nigeria’s north-east, says UNICEF

The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) says more than 75 percent of the public water supply infrastructure in the north-east have been destroyed as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency.

Sanjay Wijesekera, UNICEF’s Global Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, made this known on Wednesday at an event to mark the World water week.

Wijesekera said the destruction has left more than 3.6 million people in the region without access to even the most basic water supply.

“In far too many cases, water and sanitation systems have been attacked, damaged or left in disrepair to the point of collapse,” he said.

“When children have no safe water to drink, and when health systems are left in ruins, malnutrition and potentially fatal diseases like cholera will inevitably follow.

“In famine-threatened north-east Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, nearly 30 million people, including 14.6 million children, are in urgent need of safe water.

“More than five million children are estimated to be malnourished this year, with 1.4 million severely so.”

Wijesekera noted that the issue is even worse in South Sudan, where there has been a civil war for over three years, leaving almost half the water points across the country either damaged or completely destroyed.

He however insisted that it is the duty of governments to ensure that children living in fragile situations have access to drinking water.

“Children’s access to safe water and sanitation, especially in conflicts and emergencies, is a right, not a privilege,” Wijesekera added.

The Boko Haram crisis, added to the adverse effects of climate change, has left the North-East region of Nigeria at risk of drought.

Farmers are afraid to return to their farms because of attacks from insurgents and in areas that had been secured by the military, there is inadequate rainfall for cultivation to take place.



    The United Nations had projected that North East Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen may suffer severe food shortage as a result of crises in the areas.

    In Yemen, water supply networks that serve the country’s largest cities are at imminent risk of collapse due to war-inflicted damage and disrepair.

    Somalia is still recovering from the largest outbreak of cholera in the last five years, with nearly 77,000 cases of suspected cholera/acute watery diarrhoea.

    Similarly, in South Sudan, the cholera outbreak was the most severe ever experienced by the country, with more than 19,000 cases occurring since June 2016.

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