Thousands left homeless and isolated due to heavy rains and floods across Africa
United Nation's agencies estimate that more than a million people have been affected by flooding as torrential rain batters over 20 countries stretching from East to West Africa. Countries such as Ghana and Uganda are experiencing unusually high rainfall. It is feared that many more people will be at risk across the continent if the rains continue past the end of the rainy season and hit areas that have so far escaped the floods.
CARE's immediate responses in Ethiopia, Uganda, Ghana and Mali include distributing food, ensuring access to safe water supplies, providing shelter for displaced people and non-food items, such as blankets, plastic sheeting and pots and pans. CARE is coordinating with government agencies and other humanitarian organisations in all the affected areas.
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In Mali, three communities were affected by floods in July this year as a result of heavy rain that flooded the Yame River. About 404 houses were partially or totally destroyed, more than 1500 people affected, and 5 bridges collapsed. CARE has begun an emergency response distributing 12 tons of cereals and providing basic household equipment, such as tents and lamps. CARE is also conducting a survey to determine how the flooding will impact harvest and food security in the country.
In Ethiopia, CARE is providing relief to areas inundated by the collapse of a dam. About 4500 people are isolated and surrounded by water. CARE is also planning to support the people of the Amhara Region, who have been affected by the flooding of Lake Tana.
In Uganda, floods are forcing people who had recently abandoned refugee camps in the wake of a peace agreement between the government and rebels, to return to the camps.
'The people most affected by the flooding in the north-eastern part of Uganda are the same people who have endured twenty years of civil war and have lived in internally displaced camps for more than a decade,' says Kevin Fitzcharles, Country Director for CARE International in Uganda. 'The recent peace agreement between the Government and the Lords Resistance Army had finally given the green light for people to return to their native villages. The sanitary conditions are extremely poor and the mortality rate is high. People are back to where they started.'
In Ghana, the floods are the most serious to hit the region in nearly three decades and have hit areas that are already struggling as a result of months of drought. In the face of this new disaster the ability of many people to cope financially has been stretched to a critical limit.
'The people who have been most acutely affected by the floods and the loss of land are from Ghana's poorest farm families,' says Marcy Vigoda, CARE's Country Director in Ghana. 'Although Ghana has made impressive progress, poverty levels in northern Ghana remain extremely high. It's critical to help these people to recover their livelihoods.'
Ghana is unaccustomed to such severe natural disasters and it is expected that assistance will be needed throughout the year to help the tens of thousands of people who have lost their livelihoods because of extensive crop damage. CARE plans to work with local partners, government, and the communities themselves to restore agricultural lands, develop gardens, re-establish livestock herds, and plan for future emergencies.