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Flooding Ravages Africa, Millions Displaced

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  • Gert van der Hoek
    Re: Flooding Ravages Africa, Millions Displaced

    Fears mount over more Africa rains, floods

    Published: Tuesday, 18 September, 2007, 01:51 AM Doha Time

    NAIROBI: Fears mounted yesterday that downpours which have killed dozens in Africa, uprooted hundreds of thousands and devastated crops could continue past the end of the rainy season and hit areas that have so far escaped floods.

    “Our estimates show the floods are likely to worsen or remain at the same level up to October or early November,” said UN World Food Programme Uganda representative Tasema Negash.

    Experts say the rising waters may hit as yet unaffected areas in the coming days, such as Uganda’s central regions.

    “We are calling on the international community to come to their rescue before it is too late,” said Musa Ecweru, minister for disaster preparedness in Uganda, where 300,000 people have already been affected and at least nine killed.

    Scores have died in more than a dozen countries often ravaged by droughts, but now inundated by torrential downpours destroying settlements and sweeping away crops and livestock - cornerstones of Africa’s developing economies.

    Across the continent, uprooted communities shelter in abandoned schools, churches and under plastic sheeting.

    Schoolboys carrying books above their heads wade through flooded fields, while villagers stand on the muddy wreckage of homes searching for missing family.

    Across east Africa, more than 90 people have now died from floods and the waterborne diseases that have followed - at least 63 in Ethiopia alone.

    In west Africa, the UN humanitarian agency OCHA says floods have affected half a million people.

    The International Federation of the Red Cross says 87 people have been killed in the past two months, mostly in Nigeria.
    But those figures are rough estimates as hailstorms, mudslides and collapsed bridges wreak havoc with relief efforts.

    In Kenya, 20,000 people driven from their homes in the largely agricultural southwest left behind a wilderness of wasted crops and drowned livestock.

    “These people affected depend their lives on agriculture ... the floods will have a huge economical impact in Kenya,” said Elena Velilla, Medecins Sans Frontieres’ head of mission.

    The UN World Food Programme says it needs $29mn in Uganda to fight the crisis in a country already burdened by thousands of refugees from neighbouring Congo and more than 1mn people living in war displacement camps in the north.

    With camps for the displaced fast swelling in countries across the centre of the world’s poorest continent, experts say the threat of disease is mounting quickly.

    “We need medicines because we expect outbreaks of diarrhoea and cholera,” said Ben Brown, regional co-ordinator of Ghana’s National Disaster Management Organisation.

    Northern Ghana has been particularly badly hit, and the authorities there have appealed for international help to feed, clothe and house tens of thousands uprooted by rising waters that have killed at least 18.

    Malaria may be expected because we have stagnant waters and mosquitoes will breed,” Brown said.

    Last week in neighbouring Togo, where at least 20 people have died since last month, the authorities delayed the start of the new academic year for a month after 46 schools were damaged.

    And in already impoverished Mali and Niger, swarms of crop-eating locusts are now feared, OCHA said. – Reuters

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  • Sally Furniss
    started a topic Flooding Ravages Africa, Millions Displaced

    Flooding Ravages Africa, Millions Displaced

    Uganda: Malaria Cases Double in Flooded Areas
    Posted to the web 13 September 2007

    THE number of malaria cases has doubled in the flood-stricken areas of northern and eastern Uganda, according to the health ministry.

    "The number of patients has gone up and the proportion of malaria cases has also gone up," said Dr. Sam Okware, the commissioner for community health.

    "Whereas malaria on average accounts for 25% of all cases, in the flooded areas it is 50%." The second most common complaint is diarrhea, followed by cough, he said.

    The findings are based on a survey carried out in 15 sub-counties in the eight most affected districts. The districts included Bukedea, Kumi, Soroti, Katakwi, Amuria, Bukwa, Dokolo, Bukwo and Amolatar.

    Epidemics have not yet broken out, according to Dr. Okware, but he estimates that 300,000 people are at "high risk" of contracting water-borne diseases like cholera and dysentery. "We expect the worst situation six to eight weeks after the water has receded."

    The ministry has, therefore, opened two cholera units in Soroti with a capacity of 200 patients each, he explained.

    Emergency supplies have been sent to all the affected districts, composed of drugs to treat the three main diseases, as well as water testing kits and water purification tablets.

    In addition, village health teams have been formed to carry out home-based care for families that are stranded due to the floods. "The objective is to treat children within 24 hours of the outbreak of malaria," Dr. Okware said.

    Mass immunisation and health education programmes have also been launched in the affected areas.

    "We are spreading health messages about hygiene and sanitation, telling people to always boil water before drinking, through radio adverts, film vans, pamphlets and posters. We also dispatched one million doses of measles vaccines and 1 million doses of polio vaccines to the 22 affected districts."

    The floods, caused by unusually long and heavy rains across the Horn of Africa, destroyed gardens, disrupted food supplies, cut off villages and washed away roads and bridges.

    Mount Elgon region is particularly hard hit, with Bukwo district now reachable only by air after landslides blocked the road to neighbouring Kapchorwa.

    The flooded roads and damaged bridges are seriously hampering the delivery of aid to the most vulnerable in the remote villages.

    According to the Prime Minister's Office, 12 major roads in the North and the East have been closed due to floods, affecting 22 districts in Teso, Lango, Acholi, Karamoja and West Nile regions.

    "The 12 roads have been closed because they are impassable and too risky to use," said spokesperson Apollo Muginda.

    The roads closed include Muyembe-Moroto, Kapchorwa-Suam, Aryomoi-Lopei and Kotido-Abim in Karamoja district, as well as Gulu-Atiak-Nimule, the main access road to South Sudan.