UN launches flash appeal to aid 75,000 flood victims in Ghana
The United Nations and partner organizations today launched a $10-million flash appeal for 75,000 people in northern Ghana, where entire communities have been hit by floods after heavy and persistent rain in late August and mid-September.
Farmers in the already vulnerable Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions have lost their crops, vast tracts of land, food storage and processing facilities are submerged, and houses, bridges, schools and health facilities have been destroyed by the waters, which are part of a wider flood crisis across a whole swath of sub-Saharan Africa.
“Although floods are common in Ghana, this year’s abnormally heavy rain has resulted in flooding that is stretching the ability of affected communities to cope,” UN Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes said. “Food security is a particular concern in areas of the country where people’s lives were already precarious. The generosity of Member States and other donors can help prevent living conditions from deteriorating even further.”
Preliminary assessments by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture reveal an estimated loss of 144,000 metric tons of crops, including maize, sorghum, millet, peanuts, yam, cassava and rice. In addition, prices of all staples have doubled since the flooding, and not all food commodities are readily available at markets due to flooded roads and submerged bridges.
This leaves around 75,000 people at risk of malnutrition until next year’s harvest, which will take place only if irrigated crops can be planted on schedule. Seeds, fertilizer and tools must be supplied by March 2008 for that to happen. Funds from the appeal will also ensure that those cut off by floodwaters have access to health services through outreach and mobile clinics.
Partners with logistics expertise will enable mobile teams to deliver essential drugs and medical supplies to inaccessible areas by the use of helicopters or boats. The teams will also be able to provide insecticide-treated bed-nets to prevent an increase in malaria as the flood waters recede, as well as chlorine tablets to make household water safe to drink.
Funds are also needed to fix damaged public and household latrines. River boats will be used throughout the relief operation, estimated at six months, or until the floods have receded following the end of the rainy season.
The humanitarian community will also distribute tents and basic household items such as blankets, sleeping mats, jerry cans and kitchen-sets to those deemed the most vulnerable, some 18,000 people who have lost their homes.