- Nearly 26,000 people are left homeless or are otherwise stricken by floods that have followed almost four weeks of torrential rains in Niger and Burkina Faso. At Bilma, in the middle of the Niger's Sahara desert and about 700 kilometres northeast of the city of Agadez, the rainfall hit levels never reached since locals began keeping records in 1923.
The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) today has warned of the consequences of the unprecedented floos is Niger and Burkina Faso. Around 26,000 people are affected in the two countries. Four people have been killed in Niger, the country struck hardest by the floods.
OCHA fears that the flood affected, most of whom have lost their livelihoods, may fall victim to hunger and epidemics if aid is not flown in rapidly. According to OCHA spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs, based in Dakar, Niger had been worst hit by the almost four weeks of heavy rains, with almost 16,000 people affected. In neighbouring Burkina Faso, the figure was about 6,000. The floods had also somewhat affected other West African countries, including Mauritania, Mali and Nigeria.
Besides destroying homes, the floods had also wiped out swathes of farmland and devastated herds of livestock, raising the spectre of hunger for a population that had long been vulnerable to food shortages, Ms Byrs said in the OCHA statement.
The UN agency added that it also was concerned about the possibility of outbreaks of diseases such as cholera and malaria in the wake of the floods, as well as cattle losses and damage to local infrastructure.
UN and huymanitarian agencies were now rushing to provide emergency assistance, including food, clothes, bedding, medicines and mosquito nets to the homeless in Burkina Faso and Niger, Ms Byrs said.
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