Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: Flood - Outbreak of Water-Borne Diseases Possible, Official Warns

Abuja — The Ministry of Water Resources has advised Nigerians to prepare for a possible outbreak of water-borne diseases due to the flood that ravaged many parts of the country. Mr Babarinde Mukaila, the Head of Climate Change Unit in the ministry, gave the advice while speaking with reporters on Thursday in Abuja. Mukaila, an environmental expert, noted that the flood-affected areas were currently facing acute shortage of clean water.

According to him, the major challenge associated with flooding is polluted water and poor sanitation. "This creates a lot of problems for the affected communities; aside the problems of water-borne disease, access to clean water becomes a problem. "And you will be shocked that some of these neighbourhoods that are affected, people have to walk inside this water to get to their homes.

"As a result, they start developing skin diseases, so the issue is how do we manage this fresh water in a sustainable manner in order not to lose as much as possible into the ocean?" Mukaila said that access to fresh water remained one of the major problems confronting the people in the flooded areas as their sources of water had been polluted due to the flood.

According to him, the flood water came with a lot of debris, fecal pathogens and pollutants, which have brought a lot of sanitation challenges to those areas. The official, who had visited some of the flood affected states on an assessment tour, attributed the disaster to climate change. He explained that the fears associated with climate change were becoming a reality with the volume of flooding experienced in the country this year.

He said that Nigeria should learn a lot of lessons from the flood disaster and put in place contingency plans to address such challenges in the future. According to him, some of the challenges can be addressed, if the country gives priority to science and technological development. He said that Nigeria needed to invest in research to mitigate the effects of climate change, noting that research and technology were interwoven.

He pointed out that a simple adaptable technology could be used to address some of the challenges associated with climate change in the country. "The world is moving from MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) concept into sustainable development and except we are ready; the whistle has been blown, the MDGs will be winding down in 2015.

"Some other counties are already preparing for sustainable development; those developments that are very simple, achievable and sustainable such that your reliance on others will be minimal. "If not, then, we will be a dumping ground for other people's products," he said.

NAN

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