Burkina Faso + 6 more

600,000 people affected by floods in West Africa

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(Dakar, New York, 8 September 2009) Some 600,000 people have been affected by flooding as a result of heavy rains that have hit West Africa since June. These torrential have led to the death of 159 people, notably in Sierra Leone. Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Niger and Sierra Leone are among the most affected countries.

From Mauritania to Nigeria, damages also include destruction of private and public properties, buildings and socio-economic infrastructures such as roads. In Burkina Faso, the University Teaching Hospital Yalgado Ouedraogo suffered losses in terms of medicine and equipment; a United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination team of experts arrived in the capital Ouagadougou on 4 September to assist the authorities who had appealed for international aid. In Niger, the town of Agadez has lost nearly 400 hectares of vegetable crops and hundreds of livestock.

« It's a very worrisome situation that further weakens already impoverished populations. Natural disasters have lasting consequences that will have an impact for decades to come and take us back to square one in terms of the fight against poverty," Hervé Ludovic de Lys, the head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for West Africa, said.

Over the past few years, West Africa has been experiencing torrential rains that affect entire communities in the span of a few hours.

In 2007, 300 people died and 800,000 others were affected by heavy rains, a situation that calls for looking at climate change as an underlying cause.

West Africa is among the regions that could pay a high human cost in climate change effects and as the world is gearing up for the world summit on climate change in Copenhagen, Denmark, West African States have multiplied high-level and experts meetings on the issue in order to highlight the West African position. It is in this framework that the United Nations, the Economic Community of West African States and the Government of Togo will organize a regional conference on human rights and climate change in Lomé, Togo, on 15-16 September 2009.

For further information, please call:

Stephanie Bunker, OCHA-New York, +1 917 367 5126, mobile +1917 892 1679, bunker@un.org; Nicholas Reader +1 212 963 4961, mobile +1 646 752 3117, reader@un.org; Elisabeth Byrs, OCHA-Geneva, +41 22 917 2653, mobile +41 79 473 4570, byrs@un.org; Yvon Edoumou, OCHA-Dakar, +221 33 869 8515, mobile +221 77 569 9653, edoumou@un.org

OCHA press releases are available at http://ochaonline.un.org or www.reliefweb.int.

For more information about CERF, please see http://cerf.un.org

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.