Nigeria steering towards another deadly Cholera Outbreak- Norwegian agency warns

Mary Akanmu, Abuja

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has warned that if the Internally Displaced camps are not decongested and sanitation facilities improve, Cholera Outbreak would return and further lead to displacement of vulnerable people.

The warning is coming from over 10,000 cases of cholera that was recorded in northeast Nigeria in 2018, with more than 175 registered deaths.

NRC’s Country Director for Nigeria. Eric Batonon,  in a statement made available to Journalists yesterday in Abuja said “If the camps are not decongested and sanitation facilities improved, cholera will inevitably return, and vulnerable displaced people will bear the brunt of the epidemic again.”

He recounted that Over the last decade, northeast Nigeria has been affected by cholera on a yearly basis. Now, following a rise of violence in late 2018 forcing over 100,000 people to flee, displacement camps and sites are overcrowded. 

 The displacement according to him had resulted in a deterioration of the living conditions and a lack of sanitation facilities giving an instance of 466 people sharing one latrine at one of the displacement camps in the state of Borno, according to the  Humanitarian Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Batonon pointed out that the figure is nine times above the agreed humanitarian standards, which is set at 50 people per latrine in emergency situations adding that lack of sanitation has led to people defecating in the open, exacerbating an already vulnerable situation and increasing the likelihood of the spread of disease.

He noted that the conflict in northeast Nigeria has lasted for about ten years and there need to have learned the lessons of past cholera outbreaks and be able to prepare adequately to limit the impact. “

The Norwegian country representative called on the Nigerian authorities to provide additional land to develop decongestion plans and to enable the construction of new water and sanitation facilities.

At the same time, the international community should provide the necessary funding to respond quickly and efficiently to end the cycle of yearly cholera outbreaks in the region.”

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