The United Nations Children’s Fund on Friday raised the alarm that cases of skin diseases, water-borne diseases and respiratory infections were on the increase on account of the raging floods in many parts of the country.
It also noted that more than 2.5 million persons, 60 per cent of which are children, were in need of humanitarian assistance, as it warned that children were also at the risk of malnutrition.
These were contained in a statement by Communications and Advocacy Specialist at UNICEF, Geoffrey Njoku. He lamented that the floods had affected 34 out of the 36 states in the country, and over 1.3 million persons had been displaced.
The statement quoted UNICEF’s Representative in Nigeria, Christian Munduate, as saying, “Over 600 people have lost their lives and over 200,000 houses have either been partially or fully damaged. Cases of diarrhoea and water-borne diseases, respiratory infection, and skin diseases have already been on the rise.
“In the north-eastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe alone, a total of 7,485 cases of cholera and 319 associated deaths were reported as of 12 October. As rains are expected to continue for several weeks, humanitarian needs are also expected to rise.
“Children and adolescents in flood-affected areas are in an extremely vulnerable situation. They are particularly at risk of water-borne diseases and emotional and psychological distress.”
The UN body said it was working closely with the government and other partners to provide life-saving assistance to those mostly in need, adding that the floods were adding another layer of complexity to an already precarious humanitarian situation in the country.
It noted, “Immediate priority needs for children include health, water, sanitation, and hygiene; as well as shelter and food. Additional funding and resources are required to respond to growing needs and to sustain ongoing humanitarian interventions, with a focus on the most vulnerable, including children with disabilities.”
According to UNICEF’s Children’s Climate Risk Index, Nigeria is considered to be at ‘extremely high risk’ of the impacts of climate change, ranking second out of 163 countries.
It added, “Children in extremely high risk countries face a deadly combination of exposure to multiple climate and environmental shocks combined with high levels of underlying child vulnerability, due to inadequate essential services, such as water and sanitation, healthcare and education.”
The statement stressed that with additional support, UNICEF could scale up its response in other states as it had done in some states, including Jigawa, Niger, and Kaduna.
Snakes invade varsity
In Benue State, one of the states affected by the flood, the Joseph Sarwuan Tarka University, Makurdi, formerly known as Federal University of Agriculture, has lamented the devastating effects of flooding on the institution.
The university’s Public Relations Officer, Mrs Rosemary Waku, told one of our correspondents on Friday that the flood destroyed all the machines in the Waterworks Department and that snakes and other reptiles had invaded the school premises.
She stated, “The flood affected the Department of Waterworks because it’s close to the river, all our machines were destroyed. Due to the prolonged strike (by the Academic Staff Union of Universities), we do not have a corporate farm else it would have been submerged. As I talk to you, the school environment is being fumigated due to invasion of snakes and other reptiles.
“Many of our staff entered their offices and saw snakes and other reptiles, that is the reason the management ordered the fumigation of the school environment so that by Monday both staff and students would resume fully.”
Waku said she could not estimate the monetary value of what the institution lost to the flood.
Eight schools affected
Meanwhile, efforts by Saturday PUNCH to know the number of schools affected by the flood were not successful, as the state Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, Leva Akuma, said there was no formal report on it yet.
He however mentioned the eight primary schools he was aware of, including LGEA Primary School Tacha; LGEA Primary School Mbamtsaa; LGEA Primary School Otsaazi, Katsina Ala Local Government Area; Normadic Primary School Agbentse; Normadic Primary School Igyungu-Abua; NKST Primary School, Igba, Kwande LGA; RCM Primary School Ordue; and NKST Primary School Torbanger. He declined further comments.
Varsities suspend resumption
In Bayelsa State, three universities, Niger Delta University, Amassoma; Federal University, Otuoke; and the University of Africa, Toru-Orua, are affected by the flood. While two of them suspended resumption till the floods recede, the UAT said the floods only affected the access roads.
The state government, in anticipation of the rise in floodwater level, had in September directed all public and private primary and secondary schools to proceed on “flood break” to protect pupils and students.