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Ten Million Face Hunger In Central Africa; Niger Flooding Exacerbates Food Shortage, Leaves 200,000 Homeless

Flash floods have “worsened an already chronic humanitarian crisis caused by drought” in central Africa where aid agencies have warned that “10 million people are already facing severe food shortages, particularly in the landlocked countries of Chad and Niger, after a drought led to the failure of last year’s crops,” the Independent reports. “Now unusually heavy rains [in Niger] have washed away this year’s crops and killed cattle in a region dependent on subsistence agriculture,” and where only 40 percent of people affected by the food shortages are receiving aid, according to the agencies, including Oxfam and Save the Children.

“Such is the shortage of international aid that the United Nations World Food Programme has had to scale back its £57m [$88.2 million] operation to feed eight million people in Niger and instead concentrate its efforts on the most vulnerable – children under two – according to Oxfam,” the newspaper reports. According to Save the Children, heavy rain and flooding in Niger over the past few weeks has lead to stagnant pools of contaminated water which could increase the risk of death from malaria, respiratory disease and diarrhea in children.

“There is little children can do to avoid coming into contact with this contaminated, disease-ridden floodwater. That’s why it’s critical we make sure they get enough food so they are strong enough to fight off and recover from sickness,” said Severine Courtiol, Save the Children’s Niger manager, adding that malnourished children have “little resistance to disease” (Johnson, 8/29).

Agence France-Presse reports that the floods in Niger have “left nearly 200,000 people homeless, the United Nations said Saturday.” The U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) “said nearly 30,000 homes have been lost” since the beginning of the month and that incidence rates of malaria and diarrhea have already risen (8/29). About 80,000 animals have died in the city of Agadez in northern Niger, according to CNN. “We must find a way to quickly burn or bury their bodies to ensure water sources are not contaminated,” Modibo Traore, head of OCHA in Niger, said (8/30).