Mobilization in favor of flood-affected populations in Benin
Cotonou, Bénin, 19 October 2010 - Floods and heavy rain falls over the past month have seriously disrupted the lives of more than 360, 000 people across a vast area of Benin.
Amongst them are around 64 500 children under five. The Government and humanitarian partners are engaged in a rapid response in 51 of the country’s 77 communes.
Some 98,000 of those affected have lost their homes. The emergency response includes providing shelters materials as well as food and access to clean water.
A warning of the potential for the transmission of disease in these circumstances comes with the notification of 39 cases of cholera in the principal city Cotonou.
According to the UNICEF Representative, Dr. Souleymane Diallo, seasonal floods are usual in Benin, but this year they have been exceptionally serious.
"The situation is critical, and children and women have been hit hard. Crops have been destroyed and this will have a significant effect on the poorest and most vulnerable. For the moment our main concern is to ensure that children are being looked after and that we avoid major outbreaks of disease."
As a lead agency for Water, Hygiene and Sanitation, Nutrition, and Education, UNICEF provided disinfectants, water tanks and containers, latrine bacs, gasoil, and therapeutic food (milk and Plumpy Nut).
Within the UN Group, interventions are coordinated by the UN Resident Coordinator, Nardos Bekele-Thomas. UNDP, WHO, the WFP, UNHCR, UNFPA, FAO, the World Bank, and UNICEF, are actively engaged in the emergency response.
To date, the UN provided assistance for water supply, food, the protection of cattle, the prevention of waterborne diseases such as diarrheoa, and the organizing of the back-to-school season in affected areas.
More than 278 schools have been destroyed by the flood. In order to ensure schooling for the 60 000 children affected, the Government transferred schools to safe places including churches and leisure centers.
UNICEF is preparing school kits to support affected children during the back-to-school period. At national coordination level, a Crisis Management Unit, chaired by the Minister of Interior and Public Security is already in operation.
It includes staff from relevant Ministries as well as UN agencies, and NGOs ( Caritas, Catholic Relief Services, Plan Bénin, and the Red Cross). An urgent funding appeal for USD 8.7 million is beign made to ensure an emergency response and relief work..
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