Support for flood victims
At the end of 2019, more than 380,000 people were affected when the Ubangi River flooded.
"I thought our house was going to fall down around us," recalls Madeleine Banza, tightly hugging her two children. In November 2019, this mother's life changed forever when water levels in the Ubangi River reached two metres. Fearing for the safety of her children Mireille (3) and Jean (4), Madeleine fled when she realised her small house could no longer withstand the floodwaters.
"I lost everything. My house, my cattle and my garden were all washed away," explains Madeleine who also ran a small business to support her family. Today Madelein has found shelter with a host family that lives in a village far away from the river. The mother works in a field in exchange for a share of the harvest.
"My life now is far from ideal, but I still hope the future will be better"
"There are floods nearly every year, but the water levels never rise much and don't cause any damage," explains Antoinette Malembe (65) who had never seen a disaster like this one. When the water started to come into her house, Antoinette collected a few things and took to the road with her three children and two granddaughters. "It took us two days to travel 80 km to here," explains Antoinette who has taken refuge in a school.
"My children and grandchildren are still young and I want them to have a better future without the risk of flooding," Antoinette says firmly, a woman who used to breed chickens and had started a small business to support her family. "Before the floods, I had 10 chickens, but only one survived," says Antoinette who is determined to send her children and grandchildren back to school.
Many schools were destroyed by the floods. Idriss Soge, Principal at the Mohamed Primary School in Zongo, only managed to save a few books and maps when the river flooded his classrooms.
"Two days later, we started lessons again, under a mango tree, but the floods reached us there too"
UNICEF has set up temporary classrooms and latrines to allow the 400 pupils at his school to continue their education in decent conditions. "The pupils are the main ones to lose out because of this disaster," the Principal says, saddened.
"When the floods started, the health centre was flooded and a lot of our medicines were washed away," recalls nurse Dodo Bangala. With help from the locals, Dodo moved the patients to a safer location, but a lack of drinking water quickly became a problem. "We only have dirty water to drink now, so I'm very worried about the children's health," says Dodo who has seen an increase in cases of diahorrea and vomiting but is unable to do anything to prevent them.
"I became a nurse to help my community and project them from disease"
The health centre reopened in January 2020 in a rented property and UNICEF provided medicines and other medical supplies to ensure that patients could be treated.
With support from the European Union's DG for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and the USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, UNICEF was able to help flood victims in the North Ubangi and South Ubangi Provinces quickly. Emergency kits were distributed to the families affected, medicines were provided to the health zones hit, schools were supported, and local populations were informed about good hygiene practices. UNICEF and its partners also launched water, hygiene and sanitation activities in the zones that were affected as well as the zones sheltering victims.