ECHO provides €600,000 to fight cholera outbreak in Niger
Niamey, NIGER/Brussels, BELGIUM, 14 September 2012 – The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Office (ECHO) signed an agreement with UNICEF, making available €600,000 in support of UNICEF’s emergency response to the cholera outbreak in Niger.
The ECHO contribution will allow UNICEF and its partners to provide medicines and water purification tablets to affected communities, to educate families on good hygiene practices, and to ensure the rehabilitation of water points and the disinfection of contaminated houses and public places. UNICEF works closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) to support the Government of Niger in the fight against cholera.
Since January 2012, the regions of Dosso, Maradi, Niamey, Tahoua and Tillabery have been hit by cholera. 3,854 cases have been reported to date, 2.5 times more than last year at the same period. The contagious disease has killed 83 people. Today, cholera outbreaks are still active in the districts of Tillaberi and Tera (Tillaberi region), and in the district of Konni (Tahoua region).
“The cholera emergency in Niger is adding additional burden to the on-going severe food and nutrition crisis in the Sahel. We must intensify our efforts to further prevent the propagation of this disease,” said Guido Cornale, UNICEF Representative in Niger. “The ECHO contribution comes at a critical time because we are in the middle of the rainy season. Rains and floods lead the disease to spread faster. The total number of cases is rising.”
"ECHO responded immediately to the recent serious outbreak of cholera in Niger" confirmed Cees Wittebrood, Head of Unit for West, East and Southern Africa in ECHO. "Our field staff worked rapidly with humanitarian agencies on the ground to put together an appropriate and adequate aid package to stop the spread of the disease and to treat those infected."
Cholera is transmitted by contaminated water or food. In a country like Niger which has one of the lowest access rates to safe water and sanitation in the world, families are particularly vulnerable to cholera. In addition to stepping up preventive measures, ensuring access to safe drinking water and educating communities about the importance of good hygiene and sanitation practices are the most efficient ways of keeping cholera at bay.
The West and Central Africa region is facing a severe cholera outbreak, with very high lethality rates in some countries. In Niger, the cholera outbreak comes while the country is grappling with a food and nutrition crisis, and the influx of Malian refugees arriving in the West part of the country. In the past few weeks, Niger has been hit by severe floods which has affected 485.000 people and destroyed crops, deepening uncertainty on the upcoming harvest.
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For more information, please contact:
Anne Boher, Responsable de la Communication UNICEF Niger
Diederik Kramers, Communication Officer