DAKAR, 27 August 2010 (IRIN) – Further heavy rains in Niger have caused the number of people displaced by flooding to soar from 111,000 last week to 198,740 this week, says the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which is calling on donors and aid agencies to urgently send shelter materials, blankets and mosquito nets.
“Response in rural areas has been slow thus far,” the head of OCHA in Niger, Modibo Traoré, told IRIN. Flood-displaced families in remote the Diffa region in the southeast, and Agadez in the north, have received no assistance to date.
In Agadez some 80,000 animals, already weakened by the ongoing nutrition and food security crisis, have died in the floods. “We must find a way to quickly burn or bury their bodies to ensure water sources are not contaminated,” Traoré told IRIN.
The government is sending 400 tons of food to people displaced by floodwater, and has released $200,000 in emergency funding to purchase more.
The flooding has aggravated a countrywide food security crisis, in which nearly half of Niger’s 15.2 million people are experiencing hunger after the harvests failed, according to the government.
Traoré warned that the flooding could worsen. “The rainy season is still continuing, so victim numbers may rise even further.”