Nigeria, Niger and Chad face the risk of a disease outbreak as the rainy season starts in the Lake Chad Basin. 2.4 million people are already displaced due to the ongoing conflict with Boko Haram and the military operations to counter them, and the rains are set to make the humanitarian situation even worse.
Hundreds of thousands are living in camps across the region without adequate water access or waste management. Typhoid, cholera, malaria and hepatitis E tend to become more widespread in the rainy season. Already in Niger’s Diffa region, more than thirty people have died due to hepatitis E, most of them pregnant women, while hundreds of others are infected. There have also been reports of hepatitis E in northern Nigeria, bordering Niger.
June to August is the lean season in most farming areas, meaning the number of people requiring food assistance will increase. In Nigeria, the number of people at risk of starvation has now increased from 4.7 million to 5.2 million.
The rainy season will 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. Also in Chad, poorly built homes may collapse due to the rains.
Danielle Lustig, Oxfam's emergency coordinator for the Lake Chad region said: "There are millions of people in an extremely fragile and vulnerable situation, who have lived unimaginable horrors and suffer some degree of malnutrition. In the coming months, they could pay the ultimate price unless we are able to respond to their urgent needs."
Oxfam is striving to build enough sanitation and water facilities before the Lake Chad Basin rains halt work. Access to clean water is key for helping to prevent a disease outbreak. In Rann, northeast Nigeria, Oxfam is delivering cholera prevention kits and training community health volunteers before the rains block access.
Between April and May, 5,000 people relocated from Cameroon to the Nigerian town of Pulka where humanitarian actors like Oxfam have warned consistently that the conditions are neither dignified nor safe. Only five liters of water are available per person per day – a third of the humanitarian minimum of 15 liters. Oxfam is working there to improve the limited access to water, constructing latrines and bathing facilities, and promoting public health awareness.
Oxfam is calling for a coordinated approach to managing population movements to ensure people’s access to safe and timely assistance especially during the rainy season. We call on the authorities to ensure that all supported returns are voluntary, informed and are treated with dignity.
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 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 reached 245,000 people in Nigeria, 55,000 in Niger and 50,000 in Chad.
Sam Nurick | Humanitarian Press Officer | Washington, DC (US) |+1 951 990-2332 | [email protected]
Safiya Akau | Nigeria Media Lead Humanitarian | Abuja (Nigeria) | +234 8085 662087 | [email protected]
Laura Hurtado | Lake Chad Basin Media Lead | Barcelona (Spain) |+34 646 975 904 | [email protected]
For updates, please follow @Oxfam
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