First came the drought, then an influx of refugees and a food crisis that has yet to ease. Now, the annual rains have arrived and Niger is faced with an even more complex humanitarian situation.
Tens of thousands of people were left homeless and some 6,000 farms were destroyed by severe flooding in Niger’s Dosso region, according to nongovernmental organization Plan U.K. The floods were caused by the unusual amount of rain over the past week, which amassed more than 200mm — over half of the country’s yearly rainfall — within a six-hour time frame, Plan Niger Country Director Rheal Drisdelle told Devex.
The floods and continuous rains add to the challenge of responding to pockets of hunger and food insecurity in Niger. They come at a particularly “worrying” time — August — the lean period when people are taking fewer meals and are preparing for the next harvest season, Drisdelle said.
Plan has already started providing food, blankets, pesticide-treated nets and antimalarial medicines to people affected by the floods, who currently are staying in classrooms. Schools in the area are built with cement, unlike the washed houses, which were built from mud, Dressele noted.
The organization is also giving out anti-cholera medicines amid fears of a possible spread of waterborne diseases. The need for potable water is high, according to Dressele, as wells have also been contaminated.
Plan intends to launch an aid appeal in response to the floods. But as with any crisis, Dressele knows mobilizing funds will unarguably be a challenge.
This is not the first time Niger experienced severe flooding while also enduring a food crisis. Heavy rains in August 2010 caused flooding across the country and nearby countries, leaving more than 111,000 people homeless. It was considered the worst flooding to hit the Sahel region in 80 years.
Ivy Mungcal contributed reporting.
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