The crisis in north-eastern Nigeria remains one of the most severe in the world. 1.8 million people are internally displaced in the Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY) states. Thousands of new arrivals have been recorded in recent months, largely coming from hard-to-reach areas for reasons related to insecurity and military operations. From November 2017 to mid-August 2018, Borno and Adamawa states have seen the movement of nearly 190,000 individuals (153,000 IDP camps new arrivals and 36,000 returnees). This exacerbates a situation where vulnerabilities such as the increased spread of waterborne and water related disease are already on the rise as a result of the rainy season from June to September.
The Borno State Ministry of Health (SMoH) in north‐east Nigeria reported 380 cases of acute watery diarrhea (AWD) or suspected cholera across eight local government areas (LGAs) in the month of August 2018. Alerts of an increase in AWD have continued, especially in Jere, Maiduguri, Magumeri, Biu, Kaga and Konduga LGAs. According to the report, the most effective prevention measures against cholera are basic hygiene practices, including the use of clean and safe water and proper sanitation.
Availability of clean and safe water being one of the effective prevention measures against cholera is of paramount importance and the costs of using unsafe drinking water are huge both for people and for the economy. Access to clean and safe drinking water in these areas are currently being addressed with the use of chloride tablets and ongoing education on its use for household water treatment and safe water storage are being done. Despite the use of the tablets and the education, AWD and Cholera is still on the rise. Many cases of the tablets being ineffective and hazardous to health are being reported due to the following reasons: Higher levels of microbial contamination in water sources due to open defecation practices and secondary contamination of safe water storage due to improper usage have led to numerous cases where the use of double doses of these tablets have been observed. Double dosage exceeds the limits of safe use of the tablets, which has very negative health consequences. As a result, a rise in AWD and Cholera outbreak still not being contained within these areas. ‘Business as usual’ water treatment methods are not working and new innovative technologies that can address these shortcomings are required as stated by the President Buhari.
On November 8, 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari declared a state of emergency on Nigeria’s water supply, sanitation and hygiene sector. He subsequently, inaugurated the National Action Plan for Revitalization of Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Sector at State House Conference Centre and directed government at all levels to redouble efforts and work towards meeting the nation’s water supply and sanitation needs.
The president referred to the statistics on open defecation, access to piped water services and sanitation in the country as ”disturbing”, warning that henceforth, Federal Government support to State Governments will be based on their commitment to implement the National WASH Action Plan in their respective States and to end open defecation by 2025. He said that the declaration has become imperative to reduce the high-prevalence of water-borne diseases in different parts of the country, which has caused preventable deaths.
The president reiterate that the provision of potable water supply, adequate sanitation and hygiene are primarily the responsibilities of state and local governments and they have not being given the required attention judging from the high prevalence of water-borne diseases that are being reported in different parts of the country.
President Buhari acknowledges that Nigeria did not meet the MDG targets for Water Supply and Sanitation that ended in 2015 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets (6.1 & 6.2) for WASH are even more demanding as they require WASH services to be provided in adequate quantity and quality on premises at affordable prices and this cannot be achieved if we continue with ‘a business as usual’ approach. He called on all State Governments to work in a state of emergency to enable federal and states institutions work together to achieve the SDG targets for WASH by 2030.
The 2019 Nigerian general election is coming up February 16 to elect the President and the National Assembly and presidential primaries have been on going. Access to safe drinking-water is essential to health, a basic human right and a component of effective policy for public health protection ( World Health Organization, 2017). Water scarcity, poor water quality and inadequate sanitation negatively impact food security, livelihood choices and educational opportunities for poor families across the world. We hope that the ability to provide safe drinking water for its citizens is one of the areas these politicians will be elected on.
WASH Sector Nigeria Emergency Technical Guidance November 2016. Retrieved 16th November 2018 from https://www.humanitarianresponse.info/sites/www.humanitarianresponse.info/files/documents/files/wash_sector_nigeria_emergency_technical_guidance_final20161204.pdf
DTM Round 25 October 2018. Retrieved 16th November 2018 from https://displacement.iom.int/sites/default/files/public/reports/Nigeria%20-%20DTM%20Round%2025%20Report%20%28October%202018%29.pdf
Nigeria. Retrieved 16th November 2018 from https://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/nigeria.htm
North- East Nigeria Humanitarian Situation Update. Progress on key activities from the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan September 2018 Edition. Retrieved 16th November 2018 from file:///C:/Users/oagus/Documents/Obie/Borno/Crises%20Update%20Sep%20edition.pdf
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