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IFRC Information bulletin - Africa: Multiple disasters and hazards


This bulletin is being issued for information only and reflects the current situation and details available at this time. Respective National Societies, with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), are working to respond to each of these disasters through different means. Some have DREFs or Emergency Appeals launched, and others may require additional support in the future.

The situation and Red Cross and Red Crescent action


Africa is facing several disasters and crises which are multi-faceted and overlapping. The most widely publicized of these is the COVID-19 pandemic. As of 17 May 2020, there were 51,842 confirmed cases in Africa, with 2,011 deaths reported.1 The actual numbers of people infected and who have died from the virus are likely to be much higher, due to lack of testing capacity in many countries and general under-reporting. The countries with the highest burden of confirmed cases are South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Guinea, and Senegal, followed by Cote d’Ivoire, Sudan, Somalia and Djibouti. Health systems and infrastructure vary by countries and are not up to international standards in most of the countries , and also burdened by other diseases including HIV, malaria, cholera and Ebola. This means that the existing health system in most countries cannot handle the full effect of COVID19 pandemic. Long-running conflicts or protracted crises have exacerbated the impact of COVID-19, both in terms of health and economics, in some countries. In Somalia, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Sahel region (Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger) and Cameroon, ongoing violence and insecurity further limit the abilities of authorities to track the spread of the pandemic, while impeding the abilities of populations to access health care and lifesaving information. In the DRC, COVID-19 is also affecting the eastern part of the country, which is still responding to the outbreak of Ebola which began at the end of 2017. In addition, the shut down of markets and restrictions on movement further limit the abilities of highly vulnerable populations to access food and livelihoods, create price hike due to interupptions in trading and supply chain and cause umeployment particularly in informal labour sector.

In Eastern and Southern Africa, several countries are being affected by one of the worst infestations of locusts in decades. The insects are breeding and spreading across thousands of acres of farmland and especially concentrated in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Sudan, Djibouti, Eritrea and South Sudan. This is having an extremely worrying impact on the food security and livelihoods situations as their prevalence coincides with the crop growing season, and they are expected to continue to be present during the harvesting season.

The combination of these disasters will result in increased food insecurity and destruction of livelihoods.
Floods have displaced thousands of people and destroyed their means of livelihoods, including farm lands and livestock. The displaced people have no access to farm lands to replant and yet this is the most important cropping season of the year. COVID-19 restrictions are already hampering food supply chains leading to localised sharp increases in price of food. Losing crops due to a combination of flooding and locusts , combined with increased food prices will have devastating impacts on the affected people.

Floods are now affecting parts of most countries across the African continent. In Eastern and Central Africa, moderate to heavy rainfall associated with the long rainy seasons (March to May) has caused floods in several regions. In Kenya, the rains have led to the displacement of over 100,000 people and 194 deaths. In Ethiopia, the rains have affected over 200,000 people and caused 8 fatalities. Uganda has seen 5,000 people displaced with 6 fatalities, and 3,800 people on the Lake Islands in Mayugi district have been evacuated due to an increased level of water in Lake Victoria. Across some regions in Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania, Djibouti and Burundi, homes have been destroyed, and over 120,000 people, including some of those in IDP camps, have been left without shelter. In the DRC, floods around Lake Albert destroyed 100 homes in Djugu territory, with 78,000 people left without shelter, drinking water supply and road accessibility. Flooding in Chad saw over 1,000 homes on the Maingama site damaged, forcing 430 households to flee their destroyed homes. Elsewhere, in West Africa, the southern halves of Togo and Cote d’Ivoire have begun experiencing heavy rainfall which is expected to continue into June 2020. Lastly, in Southern Africa, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa and Angola experienced heavy rainfall from January to April 2020. In Angola, River Cambamba broke its banks and displaced 113 families in Luanda province after it damaged their homes.