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Rainy season brings risk of disease to West Africa Crisis

Posted by Meg Pruce Press Officer

3rd Jul 2017

Nigeria, Niger and Chad face the increased risk of disease with the start of the rainy season, compounding the crisis which has left over 10 million people in the region in need of humanitarian aid.

More than thirty people - mostly pregnant women - have already died due to Hepatitis E in Niger's Diffa region, while hundreds of others are infected. There have also been reports of Hepatitis E in northern Nigeria, bordering Niger. Typhoid, cholera, and malaria also tend to become more widespread in the rainy season.

Across the region, known as the Lake Chad Basin, 2.4 million people have been forced to flee their homes due to the ongoing conflict with Boko Haram and the military operations to counter them. Hundreds of thousands are living in camps without adequate clean water or waste management.

In Nigeria, the number of people at risk of starvation has increased from 4.7 million to 5.2 million. June to August is the lean season in most farming areas across the region, which means the number of people requiring food assistance will increase.

Danielle Lustig, Oxfam's emergency coordinator for the Lake Chad region said: "There are millions of extremely fragile and vulnerable people, who have lived through unimaginable horrors and are suffering from some degree of malnutrition. In the coming months, they could pay the ultimate price unless we are able to help them."

The rains will also drastically limit road access to people in need, hindering the relief work of aid agencies like Oxfam. This will be a major challenge in Niger and Chad where road conditions are particularly poor. Poorly built homes in Chad may collapse due to the rains.

Oxfam is striving to build enough sanitation and water facilities before the rains halt work. Access to clean water is key to help prevent a disease outbreak. In Rann, northeast Nigeria, Oxfam is delivering cholera prevention kits and training community health volunteers before the rains block access.

In Pulka, Nigeria, Oxfam is working to improve water supply, constructing latrines and bathing facilities, and promoting public health awareness for thousands of people who have relocated from Cameroon. Here, only five litres of water are available per person per day - a third of the humanitarian minimum of 15 litres.

Ends

For more information contact: Meg Pruce, +44 (0)7824 824359 / +44 (0) 1864 472240 / mpruce1@oxfam.org.uk

Safiya Akau | Nigeria Media Lead Humanitarian | Abuja (Nigeria) | +234 8085 662087 | safiya.akau@oxfamnovib.nl


Notes to editors

In the Lake Chad Basin, 10.7 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance: 8.5m in Nigeria, 1.6m in Cameroon, 345,000 in Chad, and 340,000 in Niger.

Oxfam works with people living with the repercussions of the conflict in Nigeria, Niger and Chad. We provide people with emergency food support, clean water, and sanitation. We distribute food and cooking equipment, seeds and tools. We also set up community protection groups for women. We have helped 245,000 people in Nigeria, 55,000 in Niger and 50,000 in Chad.

Blog post written by Meg Pruce

Press Officer

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