COTONOU, Benin, 26 October 2010 – Heavy and persistent rainfall has deeply affected the daily lives of more than 680,000 people in Benin, approximately 122,000 of whom are children under-five. The number of displaced is 180,000.
UNICEF, in collaboration with its partners, is working with urgency on the ground to respond to the crisis. “The scourge is so heavy that it is urgent to work hand in hand and respond to basic needs such as potable water, food, shelters and essential commodities”, said Dr. Diallo, UNICEF Representative in Benin.
UN agencies including UNICEF, the Red Cross, as well as NGOs namely CRS, Plan Benin, Caritas and Care have joined with Government representatives and formed the National Crisis Management Team.
“The floods have destroyed my entire life” says Afoussa aged 36, a mother of 6 children who lives in Avotrou, a suburb of Cotonou. “I have lost all my crops and have nothing to eat. Wells have been flooded and are contaminated. I have a baby to breastfeed. We have not had potable water for many days” she added.
UNICEF, with the support of the fire brigade, is ensuring the distribution of potable water in most affected areas nationwide. To date, 198,000 litres have been distributed to cover the needs of 20,000 people. In addition, purification tablets, water containers, water tanks, buckets have been distributed, to prevent waterborne diseases. Ground teams are also involved in chlorinating contaminated wells and promoting hand washing. Emergency nutrition supplies, pumply nuts and therapeutic milk already been distributed in three Northern areas affected by the flood.
Impregnated bed nets are being made available, as the water is receding in some regions. “With all the rubbish brought over by the flood, we have to act very fast to avoid the spread of malaria”, Dr. Diallo said.
“As my house is flooded, I sleep every night under a truck with my two children. We lay our mat on the floor and every morning, at 4 o’clock, I wake up to get water from the pump when people are still sleeping. We can at least wash ourselves and be clean,” said Lucie a seven months pregnant woman from Vossa, a district of Cotonou,
Education kits for the schooling of 3,000 children have been prepared to ensure a normal back-to-school season in most affected areas.
Additional funds of at least $8.7 million are needed to assist flood affected populations.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
For more information, please contact:
Hamadassalia Touré, Head of Child Survival Unit UNICEF Benin,
Tel (229) 97 97 51 05/
DL (229) 21 36 50 05
Gisèle Langue Menye, Communication Specialist, UNICEF Benin,
Tel (229) 97 97 51 08/
DL (229) 21 36 50 14.
Patrick McCormick, UNICEF New York;
Tel + 1 212 326 7426 / Cell + 1 917 582 7546