Flood Renders Women, Children Vulnerable in Bayelsa

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A group of people
Ebisoudei Simon and two of her children – Photo credit: UNICEF Nigeria

Heavy rains and river overflows in Bayelsa have put women’s and children’s lives at risk and made it difficult for them to acquire food, healthcare, and other essentials, leaving them defenseless.

The floods have affected 257,000 individuals, and 219,400 people have been displaced as a result of having to leave their houses. The majority of the riverbank communities—roughly 77 per cent —have been totally or partially submerged.

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) disclosed this via its website, noting that heavy rains and river overflows have damaged the water infrastructure, sanitation systems, and public health facilities, increasing the risk of waterborne diseases like cholera, diarrhea, malaria as well as the likelihood of an epidemic and an increase in childhood killer diseases.

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The statement narrated the conditions of some of the women and their children, for instance, Ebisoudei Simon, 40, who is unemployed and a mother of 4 young children, says that coping has become more difficult as life has become so hard. “The price of everything has changed, things are so expensive. My husband is a fisherman. He is unable to go fishing because of the rising water. Where we are now, we sleep on the floor without any kind of protection or a mosquito net,” he said.

For women and children who are being exposed to the elements and outbreaks of waterborne diseases like diarrhea, the agency stated that supplying shelter, hygiene kits, and other essential supplies to vulnerable areas remains a priority.

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Another survivor of the flood, Tarilayoun Apeli, 38, a modest trader and a mother of eight children, said she had sent two of her children to live with her sister due to the cramped conditions they were in, in the incomplete structure they were all sharing; now faces a new obstacle.

“My children and I are maintaining this unfinished building and have just received an eviction notice from the landlord. Who would be willing to help me now? I started selling little amounts of food, but nobody is buying, and the people are in need. How will I get by if I don’t sell? My youngest child, who is two years old, is unable to receive his final dose of vaccination since the clinic is flooded,” she said.

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Through the delivery of cholera kits and government-led mobile health teams, UNICEF disclosed it is  assisting the State Ministry of Health in supplying necessary medications and conducting medical outreach in IDP camps. With more funding, UNICEF is expanding its efforts in Bayelsa to deliver life-saving medical supplies and necessary medications, chlorinated water, sanitation materials, and support for the prevention and treatment of sexual and gender-based violence.

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