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UNICEF: Threat of Water-related Crises Endangering Lives of 78m Children in Nigeria

UNICEF: Threat of Water-related Crises Endangering Lives of 78m Children in Nigeria

•There can’t be food security without water security, IFAD says

Segun Awofadeji in Bauchi

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has revealed that 78 million children in Nigeria are at risk of three water-related threats.

These it listed to include inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), related diseases and climate hazards

This was contained in a statement issued by UNICEF, Nigeria Chief of WASH, Dr. Jane Bevan, which was made available to journalists yesterday.

It stated: “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.

“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 diarrhea diseases.”

She said 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.

“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.

“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,” she added.

Meanwhile, ahead of the UN 2023 Water Conference, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has called for accelerated investments to help small-scale farmers in developing countries access and manage increasingly scarce water resources in the face of a changing climate and more extreme weather events.

“There is no food security without water security. Water is indispensable to produce food but small-scale farmers increasingly struggle to access the water they need to grow their crops and feed their animals, leading to human suffering, migration and conflict,” said Jyotsna Puri, IFAD Associate Vice-President, Strategy and Knowledge Department. “Solutions exists, but investments are needed to help millions of small-scale farmers access them.”

About 3.2 billion people overall live in agricultural areas with high to very high water shortages or scarcity of which 1.2 billion people – roughly one-sixth of the world’s population – live in severely water constrained agricultural areas.

While small-scale farmers produce one third of the world’s food and up to 70 percent of the food produced in developing countries, they increasingly face water challenges due to climate change. Since 2000, the number and duration of droughts has increased by 29 percent. Population growth causes an increased demand for water, which is also a key driver of water scarcity.

“The only solution is to make the best use of every single drop. Small water infrastructure, better soil and water management, and natural solutions such as agro-forestry can go a long way in ensuring small-scale farmers have the water they need,” Puri added.

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