Cholera, a rapidly spreading disease in Nigeria
According to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), 10,000 people in Nigeria are currently affected by cholera.
“The disease is spreading rapidly in IDP camps, where access to decent sanitation is limited” declared Janet Cherono, the NRC project manager in Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram, adding that “the rainy season has only aggravated the condition.”
Cholera is indeed an infectious disease that causes severe diarrhea, which often leads to dehydration an death if untreated. It’s caused by a bacterium transmitted through contaminated food and water. It’s also important to note that cholera particularly puts children at risk.
It’s the “very high concentration of population” in the camps that is particularly concerning, as claimed by the NRC. Due to the conflict between the Nigerian army and Boko Haram, the number of fleeing refugees in the IDP camps keeps growing.
The deadly conflict has, in fact, caused the displacement of 1.8 million people and the death of more 34,000 people since 2009.
According to the International Organization for Migration, Maiduguri, Borno State, currently hosts about 243 000 displaced people. These refugees are living in very poor hygienic conditions. The lack of proper hygiene is what is creating a fertile environment for cholera to spread.
A state of emergency
Following the cholera outbreak, President Muhammadu Buhari declared a state of emergency in Nigeria’s water sanitation sector. Revolted, he described the figures on open defecation and access to piped water as disturbing.
Statics have shown that a quarter of the Nigerian population, the largest in Africa, do not have access to toilets and to running water. Access to running water has indeed declined from 32% in 1990 to 7% in 2015.
Although various organizations such as UNICEF are trying to help solve this problem, water supply, and sanitation in Nigeria is still a major issue.
Every year, about 124,000 children under the age of 5 die of diarrhea due to the lack of proper sanitation. Besides cholera, lack of sanitation can also cause other dangerous diseases such as respiratory infection and under-nutrition.
President Muhammadu Buhari has also declared that “no one has paid enough attention in order to solve the problem.” He added that “the large number of water-related diseases spreading all over Nigeria can no longer be tolerated.
According to a number of NGOs, 11 million Nigerians are currently in urgent need of humanitarian aid.