Extreme weather threatening lives of over 5.6 million Children in Lake Chad countries
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29 June 2017
Author :   Elias Ntungwe Ngalame
Floods in Lake Chad region threatening lives of children : >> Image Credits by:UNICEF/UN068128/Abubakar

YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon (PAMACC News) - Lives of over 5.6 million children are increasingly threatened by extreme weather in countries around Lake Chad including, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria, UNICEF has warned.

Heavy rains leading to floods in most of these regions is not only slowing down development assistance to a region already crippled economically by high insecurity but has left the poverty-mired population especially women and children even more vulnerable to water borne diseases, a UNICEF report has noted.

Cameroon government officials say the rains are already severe in the Northern region of the country, and it is now a problem for the local population, and a concern to development partners and the government.

“Floods have been a major challenge in the Northern region of Cameroon stoking climate worries. The government is on the alert,” says Cameroon’s minister of environment, nature protection and sustainable development Hele Pierre.

According to health and environment experts, epidemics have continued to worsen in the past years as a result of heavy rains, which sweep impurities into open drinking water wells, thus, exposing mostly children and women to multiple health risk.

According to the June 26, 2917 UNICEF report, more than 5.6 million children are at increased risk of contracting waterborne diseases, such as cholera and diarrheal infections, as the rainy season takes its toll  in the countries around Lake Chad already devastated economically by conflicts and insecurity by Boko Haram terrorists.

The report says “the threat of disease outbreaks in Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria coincides with growing regional insecurity and increased population movements particularly in Nigeria's northeast.”

"The rains will further complicate what is already a dire humanitarian situation, as millions of children made vulnerable by conflict are now facing the potential spread of diseases," said Marie Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa. "

Unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene conditions leads to cholera outbreaks and to Hepatitis E, a deadly disease for pregnant women and their babies, while standing water pools can attract malaria-carrying mosquitos the UNICEF report says.

The heavy rains which triggers flooding and muddy roads constitutes a major impediment to development assistance, severely limiting humanitarian access to remote areas and villages amidst rising  needs of millions of children and families left homeless and hungry in refugee camps in Northern Cameroon and Nigeria.

Across the Lake Chad region, UNICEF and other development partners are working in communities at higher risk of cholera outbreaks to teach families about the effects of the disease and practical steps to help avoid infection. In Niger, Cameroon and Chad, essential drugs and bars of soap have been prepositioned in warehouses close to IDP camps to curb cholera outbreak.

According to UNICEF Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, response in the Lake Chad Basin has received less than 20 percent of the US$80 million required to meet urgent needs in 2017.

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