UN needs urgent funds to feed 1.5 million flood victims in Africa
From helicopters in East Africa to boats in the West, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is using every means at its disposal to reach the estimated 1.5 million people engulfed by the worst floods in decades but it urgently needs new donations to cope with the crisis.
“Funds, especially cash, are urgently needed for several WFP operations, including in Uganda, where a $41-million UN flash appeal was launched last Friday,” the Agency said in its latest update. “Of this, WFP needs $26.3 million to feed 300,000 flood victims, as well as provide for helicopters, boats and road and bridge repairs. WFP warns that a major crisis could develop in Uganda.”
Widespread flooding in Uganda is worsening road access to key regions in the north and in some places air deliveries are WFP’s only option. In all, WFP estimates that 1.7 million people are in need of assistance in Uganda, including flood victims, refugees and others displaced by conflict or civil strife. But it has still not received new donations.
“As people’s food supplies run out, and as the threat of malaria and waterborne diseases rise in flooded areas, it is vital that WFP has funds to reach people with food aid and to keep helicopters in the air to ferry other aid to people in villagers cut off by floodwater,” the Agency said.
WFP teams on the ground in flooded areas have reached almost 74,000 people with over 1,050 tons of food, using trucks where possible and a helicopter. WFP has one helicopter in the air and is bringing in two cargo helicopters, as well as more heavy duty trucks that can negotiate muddy roads. Two engineers will also work with Ugandan authorities on repairs to roads and key bridges. The Agency needs funds to pay for all this.
In Sudan, WFP is preparing to start emergency air drops to 43,800 people in flood-affected states in southern Sudan in addition to 89,000 flood-affected people already receiving food assistance in other parts of the south and east Sudan. The one-month air drop operation will start in October. Some 500,000 people have been directly affected by the worst floods in living memory and at least 200,000 are homeless.
In Ethiopia seasonal floods have affected 226,000 people, displacing 71,000, while in Rwanda torrential rainfall combined with the effects of deforestation in the north-west has left at least 17 people dead and left 2,370 people homeless. The Government has distributed food and says it can meet the needs for the first two months. WFP is ready to assist if requested, and is identifying potential food-for-work projects.
West Africa is experiencing one of its worst floods in 10 years, affecting more than 600,000 people in 12 countries, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) but the overall agricultural production forecast for 2007-2008 is positive.
WFP has distributed 40 tons of food to 6,500 people in Togo, while in Burkina Faso it is preparing joint recovery activities together with UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for affected farmers.
WFP has worked with the Government, other UN agencies and non-governmental organization partners to give emergency aid to 18,000 homeless people in Mauritania, while in Niger it distributed food to 4,550. In Mali, it distributed food for 15,000 people in August and will provide further aid to 20,000 affected people over three months.