Nigeria is moving close to a major cholera outbreak if urgent sanitary measures are not put in place at the Internal Displaced Camps in the Northeast. The awareness and advocacy for government intervention has intensified, following the surge of cholera outbreak at the Kuchingoro camp in Abuja, where 9 people die within two days and over 246 people were infected.
Author and convener of the Empathy Driven Women International Initiative, EDWIIN, was a guest on Arise TV to discuss the cause of the Cholera outbreak, and urgent measures to take to prevent future occurrences and the fundamental plight of IDP camps in Nigeria.
How did you come to be involved in this particular plight and what was it that drew you to feel you could make a difference?
Okay. I went to work in Abuja, and I asked someone, I said I have been hearing of IDP camp, can I please visit one? And that was in February; this is August. I just couldn’t leave those people. I’ve been going there ever since like every other day. And we have been able to move one stead ahead of the other. I have been able to work with a lot of partners, and I have visited other camps, but I can say that there are some camps that are a little bit more organized, but the problem is the same all over.
Now in Kuchingoro Camp, there is no hospital whatsoever. What you have is just a shop that has one retired matron that comes once every week.
How many people are we looking at?
We’re looking at 1,750 people in one camp, and of course, we are also looking at 255 births between 2016 and 2021; and then we are looking at 400 children, and women and men.
And not only that, we are looking at open defecation. There is just one borehole that works and six tanks to serve 1,750 people. When I said open defecation, it is open defecation. You can imagine 1750 people defecating openly every day. So, a cholera outbreak was imminent, because when we went in there, it was like everybody is just going to die here.
There is another report that 146 people have died from this cholera in Kebbi state, and 2028 persons are infected
Yes. In Kuchingoro, there were over 30 infections, but what we were able to do immediately was administer ORT and then we were able to take some of them to the hospital. But then we lost 9 people in 2 days, not even in one week.
What have they been doing, before you came into the scene?
Well, what they’ve been having is what I can call topical interventions, not integrated interventions, when people come and say they want to help, but they just take pictures and look good before the camera, and they’ll say “we’ve gone to the IDP Camp. We’ve given them food, and all, but we don’t have integrated intervention. So, what I am talking about is that they need at least two more boreholes, and like 1000 litre to the 50,000-litre capacity tank. We need to improve their hygiene. They don’t have water. And even with the boreholes, we still have to talk about pumping the boreholes
Who funds the pumping of the boreholes, how do they pump the borehole? During the day, the water can be pumped, but the water that is pumped to the 6 tanks don’t go round.
So the urgent intervention right now will be two new boreholes out there first. Because even when we intervened with the ORT and lots of sugar and salt to do the mixing, we also had to buy cartons and cartons of water to prepare it.
What can be done to ensure that, they minimise this outbreak for those living in the IDP camps?
What we have to teach them personal hygiene. For us to teach the women skills, because we knew it was not going to be easy working with these women, we took like a week to provide the women with bathing soap, deodorants and everything, because we are going to be working with them. And they were really excited. They were happy because no one had actually come to teach them skills and take their hygiene into consideration. So for them, personal hygiene was like a learning process.
And very importantly I want to say, there’s a lot of infections and STDs in the camp. If you have 255 children between 2016 and now, certainly, a lot of activities have been going on. And so we are working on having the very first reproduction health medical outreach; working with doctors and medical practitioners.