By Tosin Kolade
Abuja, – The Society for Water and Sanitation (NEWSAN) says 34,986 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) risk Cholera outbreak in their camps in Benue state.
Mr Nanen Gangese, NEWSAN State Coordinator, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Friday, said this would happen if the government fails to meet their water and sanitation needs on time.
He explained that from the needs assessment conducted by the group, issues around lack of proper access to toilet and water have not been adequately tackled.
He said the group carried out the assessment to establish facts and figures to ascertain the level of WASH needs in the camps in line with the population of IDPs.
Quoting the Benue State Emergency Management Agency, Gangese said the population from the four camps stood at 34,986, with immediate need to check incidents of open defecation.
“In the wake of farmers-herders conflicts in Benue state, thousands of people were displaced which led to the creation of IDP camps by the Benue state government.
“There is no gain saying that wherever there is human habitation, the issue of access to clean and safe water in sufficient quantity, sanitation and hygiene must be taken seriously.
“The camps mentioned above in Guma and Makurdi LGAs are still experiencing high level of the practice of open defecation, poor environmental sanitation and poor access to toilets by the IDPs.
“There is the need to construct more toilet facilities to cater for the teeming population of IDPs and embark on another intensive sensitisation of the IDPs on both personal hygiene and environmental sanitation.
“This is pertinent to avert the outbreak of cholera, diaorrhea, typhoid, which are likely to occur if these steps are not taken.’’
The coordinator identified incident of broken pipes in six toilets in Abagena camps, noting that epidemic outbreak could arise from polluted water sources from toilets and from open defecation.
According to him, the total number of functional toilets across these camps is four at the Local Government Education Authority (LGEA)Primary school, Daudu, saying they were filled up and needed immediate evacuation.
“This number is grossly inadequate owing to the population of IDPs in these camps, as a result, encouraging open defecation in the camps.
“Therefore, there is need to construct more toilet facilities in the camps, at least 10 (five for males, five for females) more each at the LGEA Primary school camps in Daudu and Gbajimba, making a total of 20 toilets to be constructed.
He added that the findings were shared with some development partners for collaboration and joint intervention saying NEWSAN presently lacked the financial capacity to intervene without support.
Gangese said the group has carried out training of its members in the state on Menstrual Hygiene Management and Girls’ Attendance at School to equip them with skills to begin to engage stakeholders and contribute to increasing awareness on menstrual hygiene management.
This, he said, would also help to break the taboos around menstruation especially as it affects girl-child education.
He said that sensitisation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Benue State on Effective Menstrual Hygiene Management has been carried out towards equipping them with knowledge to understand and adopt best hygiene practices during menstruation.
He added that the training also focused on educating women on the use, treatment and disposal of sanitary pads, break the taboos and myths surrounding menstruation and advocate for men to support their women and young girls during menstruation.
“374 women and young girls of reproductive age and 127 men at the Abagena IDPs camp were sensitised, while 100 packs of sanitary pads were distributed to some of the IDPs’’, the coordinator added.