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Relief effort steps up in northern Ghana after floods strike region, says UN

Relief effort steps up in northern Ghana after floods strike region, says UN

United Nations emergency staff today set up a humanitarian coordination centre in northern Ghana to help with relief efforts in the wake of floods that have killed at least 20 people, destroyed numerous roads, bridges and schools, and inundated vital cropland.

The centre was established in Tamale, the capital of Northern region, soon after the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team arrived in the town to assist the Government as it determines how best to respond to the flooding, which has struck across West Africa after a week of torrential rains late last month.

UN officials are also taking part in a three-day joint assessment mission with Government officials and representatives of national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to the most affected areas in Ghana’s Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions.

The mission, which started yesterday, includes the UN Resident Coordinator in Ghana and staff from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Today five teams are assessing areas of the Northern region by road and by air.

About 260,000 Ghanaians have been affected by the floods, according to OCHA, which reports that at least nine bridges have collapsed and the water supply systems in many areas have been destroyed, along with roads and schools. An unknown number of crops and livestock have also been lost.

OCHA reports that a major concern is the possible outbreak of waterborne diseases after cases of diarrhoea, dysentery and cholera were diagnosed in the Upper East region, close to the border with Burkina Faso and Togo.

The Ghanaian Government has declared a state of emergency in the three most affected regions and begun distributing relief items to the flood victims while deploying naval equipment and personnel to help with the ferrying of people and goods to and from those areas cut off by the high waters.

OCHA said UN humanitarian agencies were still evaluating the most effective means of ensuring the delivery and distribution of emergency supplies, including food, tents, blankets, tarpaulins, water purification supplies, generators, jerry cans, mosquito nets and mobile sanitary facilities.

In total, some 200 people have been killed and 650,000 others have lost their homes because of African floods, which have hit 17 countries.