Clean Water & Health Care
Many people in the Niger Delta are holding the government accountable for inadequately investing its oil revenue shares in public serves. Health care and drinking water facilities are lacking in many communities. People often buy water at private boreholes or fetch it from polluted rivers and streams. The endless task of fetching water weighs heavily on the shoulders of women. It eats into their available time for generating an income.
The death toll of the inadequate health care and sanitation is large. Every year, one out of every 7 children in the heart of the Niger Delta is estimated to die before the age of 5. The number of under-5 deaths in the three core Niger Delta states alone is over 65,000 per year – out of a total population of almost 12 million people. These deaths far outnumber the casualties of the much-reported violence and kidnappings in the region. Yet, we hardly ever hear about them in the news.
Women’s health is particularly at risk. They need more health care than men in view of pregnancies and deliveries. The maternal mortality rate in the three core Niger Delta states ranks second highest in the world. Many women fail to go for antenatal check-ups as functional facilities are far away. The journey – often made by canoe or by motorbike taxi over bumpy roads – can be fatal in the case of emergencies.
Despite these health risks, most ethnic groups in the Niger Delta expect women to bear many children. The fertility rate in the region is estimated to be amongst the highest in Africa: 5.7 births per woman. Family planning is uncommon, especially in remote communities that do not have access to health education.
The maternal mortality rate in the three core Niger Delta states ranks second highest in the world.