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Flash flooding displaces thousands in Niger

Plan Ireland has said that children are at risk of waterborne diseases because of their weaker immune systems

File: A mother and her child in Niger
File: A mother and her child in Niger
Image: Ben Curtis/AP/Press Association Images

FLASH FLOODING HAS hit the Nigerien capital, Niamey, displacing thousands of people.

Plan Ireland, which has been distributing aid in the area, said today that the flooding has destroyed numerous homes and comes on foot of a food crisis in the country.

Relief Web said that the flooding hit over the Islamic Eid-al-Fitr celebration, which marks the end of Ramadan.

Plan Ireland CEO David Dalton commented:

In the space of 10 months, Niger has been hit by a food crisis brought on by high market prices and poor harvests, a refugee crisis triggered by conflict in neighbouring Mali, followed by a cholera outbreak and now devastating floods. It is too much for Niger to take on alone.

The Meteorological Centre at the Diori Hamani International Airport in Niamey said that overnight on Saturday 18 August, 161mm of rain fell, causing the Niger River to burst its banks in sections of the capital.

Homes in the Banga Banda neighbourhood, which is located along the west bank of the river, collapsed because of the deluge.

Plan Ireland said that just two weeks ago, half a year’s volume of rain fell in the Dosso Region in just 24 hours, destroying thousands of homes and leaving at least 75,000 people homeless.

All of these people were also affected by the Sahel Food Crisis and many of their farms with crops for 2012 were destroyed.

In Banga Banda, Tahirou Hamadou, 35, lost his home to the flood waters. He told Plan Ireland that he and thousands are sheltering in schools across the capital where as many as nine families camp out in a single classroom.

In the 30 years that I have lived in this house the river has never come so far and we have never had such flooding. Three days ago we saw the river level rising, so we built a dyke from sandbags but when the flood from the rainfall breached the dyke, my house started to fall and I took my family and 2-year old daughter and ran.

Government

Plan Ireland’s disaster risk management coordinator Dualta Roughneen said Plan is scheduled to meet with government authorities to be briefed on the extent of the situation.

Plan has been distributing aid including rice, cooking oil and blankets, as well as pesticide-treated mosquito nets, and says there is also the likely increase of waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea and malaria, while children are increasingly at risk to trauma, displacement and loss of education.

With weaker immune systems, children are the most at risk. They particularly need water and food. This area was already impacted by the Sahel Food Crisis, the little remaining food stocks as well as crops growing in fields have all been swept away.

Niger is currently coping with four simultaneous emergencies: the Sahel Food Crisis, the Malian refugee crisis, a cholera outbreak and devastating floods.

Plan Ireland’s West Africa Crisis Appeal can be donated to via www.plan.ie

In July, it was said that up to 13 million people in West Africa are at risk from a food crisis because locusts decimated crops and cereal prices are above the seasonal average.

Read: Niger: Food crisis affecting 13 million in West Africa>

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