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UN rushing aid to 1.5 million flood victims in sub-Saharan Africa

UN rushing aid to 1.5 million flood victims in sub-Saharan Africa

Flooded village in Rwanda
United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) teams are fanning out across a wide arc of sub-Saharan Africa, from Mauritania in the west to Kenya in the east, bringing in helicopters and boats where necessary to help an estimated 1.5 million people hit by some of the worst floods in decades.

“Funds, especially cash, are urgently needed,” WFP said today in its latest update on the situation. Just yesterday, the agency appealed for nearly $65 million to feed 300,000 flood victims as well as refugees and other displaced people in Uganda for the next six months.

WFP is working together with Governments and other aid agencies to assess needs and respond swiftly throughout the region, drawing on emergency stocks.

West Africa is experiencing some of its worst floods in 10 years, affecting 500,000 people in 18 countries, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). WFP rapid assessment missions are currently evaluating needs in Ghana and Togo where heavy rains and flooding have caused widespread damage to crops and infrastructure and forced large numbers of people to flee their homes.

In Togo, 60,000 people are in need of urgent food assistance, according to preliminary assessments, but the figures could be higher as information from inaccessible areas is being collected. Heavy rainfalls in the north have washed away a significant portion of cultivated land and destroyed over 30,000 houses as well as six dams.

In Ghana, it is estimated that 75,000 people are in urgent need of aid including food, clothing, blankets, cooking utensils, canoes or boats, mosquito nets and water purification tablets. In Mauritania, floodwaters covered most of the city of Tintane in August, destroying public and private infrastructure. WFP has distributed food for 5,000 flood victims in Mali in August and over 4,500 in Niger.

In east and central Africa, flooding currently affects at least 300,000 people in Uganda.

In Sudan, 500,000 people have been directly affected by floods, at least 200,000 are homeless and 113 people have died. Since July, torrential rains have caused flash floods in the east and south, with many locals saying they are the worst in living memory. The UN and non-governmental organizations have provided clean water to more than 1 million people and emergency shelter to 200,000. WFP has delivered food to 89,000.

Across Ethiopia, food aid has started for more than 60,000 flood victims amid some overcrowding in temporary shelters and threats of an outbreak of water-borne diseases. Floods in the north, west and south have affected some 183,000 people.

In Rwanda, torrential rain in the northwest has killed 15, damaged homes in at least 10 villages and left 7,000 people homeless. The Government says it can meet food needs for the first two months but aid will be needed because people who have lost their homes and crops may need food for at least six months.

In Kenya, lowland floods in the west have reportedly displaced 1,700 families. In the arid and semi-arid lands served by WFP's emergency operation, heavy rains have cut road access in the Samburu region in the northeast. But flooding has not yet been reported.