Floods worsen misery for hunger-stricken Niger – UN

The Diffa-N'Guigmi road in Niger becomes nearly impassable during the rainy season

3 September 2010 – Already stricken by a severe food crisis brought on by a prolonged drought, the people of Niger have now to contend with floods which have affected more than 200,000 people, the United Nations reported today.

The floods, the result of heavy rainfall, have exacerbated the misery of people who had already lost their livelihoods to the drought. Many have been forced to seek shelter in community buildings, mostly schools, losing whatever social support mechanism they had, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported.

More than 7,000 homes have been completely destroyed and at least 2,000 damaged. Flood waters have inundated an estimated 5,300 hectares of farmland, according to Elisabeth Byrs, OCHA’s spokesperson in Geneva.

Humanitarian agencies are providing support to local committees set up to respond to the flood emergency, with more effort devoted to measures to mitigate the effects of the disaster. OCHA has continued to chair disaster coordination meetings both nationally and regionally, Ms. Byrs said.

The floods, which began last month, have been blamed for several deaths and the loss of 100,000 cattle, according to OCHA. The drought caused crop failure and livestock deaths.

An assessment carried out in April indicated that over 7 million people, or about 46 per cent of Niger’s population, are suffering from moderate or severe food insecurity.


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