‘Deeply concerned about cholera outbreak in Nigerian states’ – WaterAid

Posted by
Alice Barnard
6 October 2021

WaterAid is deeply concerned about the cholera outbreak that has so far claimed 3,000 lives in several states in Nigeria [1], and is especially affecting young children between five and 14 years old [2].

The numbers might be even higher, WaterAid said, as people in hard-to-reach areas have been affected as well, but they are not all included.

The organisation fears that the global climate crisis, for which the world is unprepared according to a UN report published today [3], will increase the number and severity of these outbreaks, as there will be a higher risk of floods contaminating clean water sources.

Evelyn Mere, Country Director of WaterAid in Nigeria, said:

“This recent outbreak has been the most lethal one in several years, considering the number of cases and death recorded so far. It shows how important clean water, good sanitation and hygiene are to saving lives. Even though the rainy season is coming to an end, the outbreak is ongoing.”

WaterAid is working closely with the authorities in several states and at national level in the fight against cholera. It is intensifying the campaign against cholera through TV and radio messages, focusing on the importance of access to safely-managed toilets in households and public institutions, an end to open defecation, and campaigning to improve handwashing habits. WaterAid is also working continuously to influence the government at all levels to prioritise communities' access to clean water.

According to an earlier report [4] on water, sanitation and hygiene, only an estimated 16% of the population in Nigeria have access to basic hygiene services, 44% have access to basic sanitation and 46 million Nigerians still defecate in the open. Their waste is often washed away by rain, contaminating water sources such as drinking wells, especially during the raining season.

To tackle the challenge, the Nigerian government and donors need to step up their investments in the grossly underfunded water, sanitation and hygiene sector, which was declared to be in a state of emergency in 2018.

Ms Mere continued:

“Improving living and sanitation conditions in a sustainable way is extremely important in the fight against diseases like cholera and the impacts of climate change – it will literally save thousands of lives. Communities need proper handwashing and sanitation facilities, and clean water sources that are at a distance from toilets so there’s no cross contamination.”


Notes to Editors:

WaterAid is working to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation. The international not-for-profit organisation works in 28 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 27 million people with clean water and 27 million people with decent toilets. For more information, visit WaterAid's website, follow @WaterAidUK or @WaterAidPress on Twitter, or find WaterAid UK on Facebook.

  • 771 million people in the world – one in ten – do not have clean water close to home.[5]
  • 1.7 billion people in the world – more than one in five – do not have a decent toilet of their own.[6]
  • Around 290,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That's more than 800 children a day, or one child every two minutes.[7]
  • Every £1 invested in water and toilets returns an average of £4 in increased productivity.[8]
  • Just £15 can provide one person with clean water.[9]

[1] Cholera Situation Report

[2] Nigeria: Cholera Outbreak Emergency Plan of Action

[3] 2021 State of Climate Services

[4] Water, Sanitation, Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping 2019

[5] WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2017 update and SDG Baselines

[6] WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2017 update and SDG Baselines

[7] Prüss-Ustün et al. (2014) and The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (2018)

[8] World Health Organization (2012) Global costs and benefits of drinking-water supply and sanitation interventions to reach the MDG target and universal coverage

[9] www.wateraid.org