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Unsafe water: biggest threat for children in conflict areas

Kategorie:
Autor: Jonas Völker

On 13 March 2017, Aisa drinks water supplied in Bakassi IDP camp, in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, Nigeria. Four solar powered boreholes with 10,00 litre overhead storage for each borehole and 60 water taps are servicing 21,000 Internally Displaced Persons from Gwoza, Marte, Monguno LGAs (Image: © UNICEF/UN057060/Abubakar).
On 13 March 2017, Aisa drinks water supplied in Bakassi IDP camp, in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State. Four solar powered boreholes with 10,00 litre overhead storage for each borehole and 60 water taps are servicing 21,000 Internally Displaced Persons from Gwoza, Marte, Monguno LGAs. The prolonged humanitarian crisis in the wake of the Boko Haram insurgency has had a devastating impact on food security and nutrition in northeast Nigeria, leading to famine-like conditions in some areas, according to a World Food Programme (WFP) situation report from late February 2017. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) projects that by June 2017 some 5.1 million people in Nigeria will be food insecure at crisis and emergency levels. In 2017 in northeast Nigeria, in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, the three states most directly affected by conflict, 75 per cent of water and sanitation infrastructure in conflict-affected areas has been damaged or destroyed, leaving 3.8 million people with no access to safe water. Displaced families are putting enormous pressure on already strained health and water systems in host communities. With the ongoing disruption to basic services the likelihood of waterborne diseases, such as diarrhoea and cholera, is growing and children are worst hit in such conditions leading to increase malnutrition and mortality. One third of the 700 health facilities in the hardest-hit state of Borno have been completely destroyed and a similar number are non-functional. As at 15 March 2017, over the past 12 months, UNICEF and partners have provided safe water to nearly 666,000 people and treated nearly 170,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition in the three conflict-affected northeast Nigerian states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. As part of cholera preparedness, UNICEF and other WASH Sector partners are building the capacity of government and NGOs on cholera response and developing contingency plans with other st

At World Water Day 2019, UNICEF released their latest report “Water under fire” on water and sanitation in complex emergencies and the effects especially on children. This brochure provides shocking facts about the circumstances, under which displaced people are forced to live. The authors state that children under 5 years are more than 20 x likely to die from diarrhoeal disease related to unsafe WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) than violence in conflict. From 2005 to 2017, challenges for the emergency WASH sector have become even stronger, due to the fact that the number of crisis that demanded a response from international partners doubled from 16 to 30 and the number of people that were displaced, mostly by conflict, has increased to 68,5 million, half of which are children. Furthermore, the long duration of several emergencies aggravate the problems. Actually the average duration of emergencies is about nine years.
Without safe WASH, children’s health, nutrition, safety and education are at risk: They are exposed to preventable diseases including diarrhoea, typhoid, cholera and polio; they are at risk of malnutrition; they are vulnerable to sexual violence as they collect water or venture out to use latrines; and they deal with affronts to their dignity as they bathe and manage menstrual hygiene.
However, the publication does not only provide statistics of misery, but also shows solutions. In detail, case stories from Ukraine, Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, and Yemen showed improvements that were recently achieved to help securing children’s right to safe water and hygiene.
Finally, all governments, partners and parties in conflict are called to
• Stop attacks on water and sanitation infrastructure and personnel,
• Build a WASH sector that can consistently and predictably provide high-quality water and sanitation services in emergencies,
• Link life-saving humanitarian responses to the development of sustainable water and sanitation systems for all. Here you find the link to the full UNICEF report “Water under fire”.

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