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News note

Heavy flooding affects West Africa

NEW YORK, 21 September 2007 - The exceptionally heavy seasonal rains have displaced large populations in the West and Central African regions. The most affected and of immediate concern are Ghana, Togo and Burkina Faso.

Since the rains began four weeks ago, UNICEF and other humanitarian agencies have also been assisting people in several other countries, mainly Mauritania, Nigeria and Mali.

It is worth noting that in Ghana and Togo the floods hit in particularly poor regions with some of the worst health and nutritional indicators for children. In addition, across the region, the flood waters have hit as the malaria season is peaking, and standing water will only increase breeding conditions for mosquitoes. These factors mean that even when the waters subside there will be longer term concerns and consequences.

Ghana (northern region eastern and western parts)

UNICEF teams are in the field working with other agencies and the government to make an urgent assessment of needs.

Immediate concerns are;
1) Loss of livelihoods, land and livestock which will lead to rising food prices.
2) Teams report that there is clear potential for disease outbreaks due to contamination of water sources and poor sanitation.

Immediate actions taken by UNICEF in Ghana;
1) Health, medical and education supplies have been dispatched to affected regions from contingency stocks. These include drugs, water purification tablets, hygiene kits for babies, cooking sets, treated mosquito nets, tarpaulins, soap, tents, school in a box, plastic buckets/mugs.
2) UNICEF’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) team is working with government and specialist partners to minimize the threat of disease.

Of the 75,000 people considered most vulnerable 20 per cent or 15,000 are children under five. (total 15,000). Because of the loss of farm land, UNICEF has serious concerns about the nutritional status of these children, particularly since the area had already suffered two months of extreme drought in June and July.


In northern Togo 8,000 people have been displaced and some 60,000 have lost housing.

Some 100 bridges and culverts have been washed away. Surveys by UNICEF show an immediate need for shelter, emergency medicines, water and sanitation supplies. As in all floods, there is a real danger of water borne diseases. 

Amongst supplies already distributed;

  • 30 plastic sheeting rolls (50 m x 4 m)
  • 10 rolls of rope
  • 30 squatting plates
  • 12,000 water purification tabs (240 boxes of 50 tabs)
  • three water bladders 5000 liters + distribution ramps six taps

Burkina Faso

Latest figures suggest 40,637 people in 45 districts are affected. So far UNICEF has already supported the government with emergency supplies, high protein (BP5) biscuits and impregnated bednets.

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 further information, please contact:

Patrick McCormick, UNICEF New York, +212 326 7426, pmccormick@unicef.org
Rafael Hermoso, UNICEF Media New York, 1212 326 7516, rhermoso@unicef.org
Martin Dawes, UNICEF Dakar, +221 869 5858, mdawes@unicef.org




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