W Africa: aid for flood victims

2009-09-07 21:05

Dakar - Efforts were under way on Monday to help hundreds of thousands of people affected by heavy flooding in West Africa.

Almost 500 000 people have been affected in the three worst-hit countries - Senegal, Burkina Faso and Niger - Yvon A Edoumou, a spokesperson for the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Dakar, told the German Press Agency dpa.

Senegal suffered the most, with 264 000 people hit by the heavy rain.

"Right now, in all these countries, aid is being distributed," Edoumou said. "In Burkina Faso people are living in temporary shelters... in Dakar, people haven't moved, they are living in their flooded homes."

Over 32 people are believed to have died, with the toll expected to rise. Infrastructure has been badly hit, with streets and bridges washed away in many places, Kristina Rauland from German aid agency HELP in Burkina Faso told on Tuesday, adding she felt that the authorities were not responding quickly enough.

Efforts are also underway to begin pumping out the water, but there are fears that the continuing rainy season could cause more problems.

"We are looking at another 2-3 weeks of rainy might just be few inches or may be a lot of inches that can cause more havoc," Edoumou said.