ABUJA, March 20 (Xinhua) -- A total of 78 million children are at the highest risk from a convergence of water-related threats in Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said Monday.
Calling on the government to rapidly increase investments in the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) sector, Jane Bevan, UNICEF Nigeria's chief of WASH, said in a statement in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, that there is an urgent need to reduce the preventable diseases among vulnerable children.
The UNICEF listed the threats of inadequate water, sanitation, and hygiene, related diseases, as well as climate hazards, saying 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," the statement said. "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 diarrheal diseases."
"Groundwater levels are also dropping, requiring some communities to dig wells twice as deep as just a decade ago," it noted.
The UNICEF statement explained that investments from global climate financing will help strengthen climate resilience in the WASH sector and communities. Such a move "is not only a matter of protecting children's health today but also ensuring a sustainable future for generations to come."