No fewer than 650,000 Nigerians have been displaced by flood within a four across the country, says UNICEF Chief of Field Office in Kaduna State, Gerida Birukila.
Birukila said this on the occasion of the commemoration of World Children’s Day yesterday in Kaduna.
Represented by Joyce Eli. UNICEF’s chief said that the displacement happened between 2016 and 2021.
The theme for this year’s celebration is: “Impact of climate change on children”.
Birukila further noted that more than 3.1 million children could be displaced by riverine floods over the next 30 years.
She said Nigeria was the second worst country worldwide in terms of children’s exposure and vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, scoring 8.5 out of 10 on UNICEF’s Children’s Climate Risk Index (alongside Chad).
Birukila added that environmental degradation and climate change also contributed to malnutrition due to a shortfall in food availability.
She said, “And this contributes to increasing poverty and displacement.”
According to her, energy poverty in Nigeria is a cross-cutting issue that affects child rights. Birukila lamented, “Only 55.4 per cent of the total population in Nigeria benefit from access to electricity.
The UNICEF official stated that diseases could spread across communities when people lacked access to safely managed sanitation services.
Birukila said, “Children and their families are also at risk of reverting to open defecation in drought-prone areas of Nigeria when water shortages make the cleaning and maintenance of toilets difficult or render water-based toilets non-functional.”
She added that unless an urgent action was taken, years of progress in the sanitation sector could be undermined by climate change.
Birukila further said that opportunities existed for sanitation to contribute to climate resilience in the WASH, agriculture, and energy sectors.
She added that sanitation systems could be adapted to resist climate shocks and stressors, and safely managed to contribute to climate change mitigation.
Speaking further, Birukila said that the safe use of sanitation wastewater and sludge from sanitation systems for irrigation and energy recovery had a large unmet potential in Nigeria to contribute to adaptation and mitigation in the agriculture and energy sectors.
She reiterated UNICEF’s deep commitment to addressing climate change, adding that in Nigeria, they developed a Climate Action Plan (2023- 2027).
Birukila said that the action plan focused on mitigating climate risks and adapting solutions to climate shocks through a multi-disciplinary, collective effort that engaged children and youth and empowered local communities and authorities at all levels.
The UNICEF top official also said that it looked forward to expanding its partnerships to advance the rights of children to a healthy planet.
She listed seven priority areas in which their collaboration was anchored with other bodies in the country.
They include; government authorities, development partners, CSOs, youth and children-based organisations and private sector players.
Also, the Kaduna State Commissioner for Human Services and Social Development, Hajiya Rabi Salisu, assured children of the improvement of their social well-being.
According to her, the state has a law that protects children with an implementation committee that takes care of Children’s welfare.
Speaking on climate change, Salisu said it affected children, women, and people with disabilities in areas prone to flood and natural disasters.
She assured the children that the state would launch a children’s parliament where the plight and concerns of children would be addressed.
The commissioner also restated the state government’s commitment to ending street begging and its continued engagement in enrollment of out-of-school children.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the highlight of the event was the unveiling of physically challenged school children.