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News Outlets Examine West Africa Floods

The torrential rains that began in June in West Africa and subsequent floods have forced an estimated 150,000 people from their homes and claimed the lives of 160, VOA News reports. The worst affected countries include Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Niger and Sierra Leone (Schlein, 9/13).

The deadly floods could increase the risk of diarrhea, malaria and other outbreaks of communicable disease, the WHO said Tuesday during an appeal for funding, the U.N. News Centre reports. Though “no outbreaks have been reported so far in affected countries including Ghana and Mali, there have been increased reports of malaria and diarrhoea.” The WHO warned that the floods have kept it from getting a complete view of the health problems (9/15).

“Limited aid is being distributed to the most affected regions,” the Associated Press/NPR writes, which includes the World Food Program’s goal to distribute food rations to 125,000 people.  Said one man of his situation in Senegal, “I live like a fish. I eat in the water. I sleep in the water. And now I work in the water” (Mbao, 9/12).

IRIN examines how a surge in urban congestion has contributed to the devastation caused by floods in West Africa (9/14). “During the droughts of the 1970s, people began illegally building houses in the low-lying marshes that surround Dakar, the Senegalese capital,” AP/NPR writes. “When the drought ended and the rains returned, these bowl-shaped neighborhoods began to flood” (9/12). The IRIN article includes information on how population growth has led people to build homes on underdeveloped land, exposing them “to flooding and other hazards like landslides and industrial risks,” and the ongoing efforts of the Senegalese government to relocate populations at greatest risk from flooded areas to safer locations (9/14).

The BBC also reports on the flooding situation in Senegal, adding, “while West Africa has been hit by floods, the east of the continent is suffering from a drought - twin battles which analysts say will become more common as a result of climate change” (Ross, 9/13).