Niger Flooding Causes Over 36,000 Houses to Collapse - CARE
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Niger Flooding Causes Over 36,000 Houses to Collapse

People with wheelbarrows and crass move around in floodwaters in a city street.

Heavy rains have inundated West and Central Africa in recent weeks, killing dozens and displacing thousands

Torrential rains in recent weeks have caused deadly and destructive flooding across Niger that has claimed lives, destroyed property and left more than 432,000 people in need of shelter, water, food and essential items.

Sixty-five deaths have been recorded, more than 36,000 houses have collapsed, and more than 22,200 acres of farmland destroyed. Maradi, Agadez and Niamey are the most affected regions. The Niger River is overflowing, dams and dikes have burst, and huge amounts of water are engulfing people’s homes, farms and property without warning. In the capital Niamey, where CARE Niger is headquartered, whole neighborhoods are underwater.

“All the houses fell down and the cement houses are full of water. No house is in a good state. Our house is completely flooded,” says Hadjo Issa, a mother of four from Karadjé. She used to make a living by selling juice, before the floods destroyed her home and fridge.

“The walls fell down, and the water was rising from under us.”

CARE teams are on the ground and responding in Niamey with cash transfers to try to help up to 750 households buy food and other essential supplies. CARE is also supporting sanitation by building mobile or temporary latrines, including gender-sensitive toilets for women and girls, for people sheltering in public buildings.

432000

people

are in need of shelter, water, food and essential items due to flooding in Niger

‘’Today, compassion and solidarity should be prevailing words from us, for every one of us is affected by this flood, whether by far or near,” says CARE Niger Country Director Ely Keita.

Heavy rains have been recorded in West and Central Africa in the past weeks, including in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Ghana, Niger, Mali, Nigeria, Republic of Congo and Senegal, leading to devastating floods that have killed dozens and displaced thousands of people.

“This is the first time I have witnessed such a phenomenon. … What we are seeing today is really a catastrophe.”

The Niger government’s initial response to the crisis included authorizing temporary resettlement of displaced people in classrooms and distributing food and non-food items. But there is still an unmet and rising need for food and materials such as sleeping mats and bedding, mosquito nets, cooking equipment, water storage and tarps. Many people have nowhere to go. And as schools prepare to reopen, many people will be forced to find other places to shelter.

“We could no longer stay in our houses, the walls fell down, and the water was rising from under us. You can see our stuff parked in the classrooms. There is nowhere else to go, and now we’re being asked to leave the premises,” says Zalika Saadou, a 55-year-old spice seller who lost her home and shop in Niamey’s Karadjé neighborhood to flooding.

Saadou, a widow and mother of 11, says the family and friends she’d normally stay with have also been displaced by flooding and has nowhere else to go. “So where can we go now? Should we take our things and go back to our flooded homes?”

People already affected by the COVID-19 pandemic are now facing major challenges in terms of food, shelter, and other needs. The flooding has led to significant losses of goods and cereal crops, especially rice grown in the Niger River valley. This, combined with the impact of COVID-19 and ongoing food insecurity in parts of the country, could lead to more people going hungry.

“It’s malaria season, there some people who are already sick and can’t get treatment. We are really, really in need and are appealing for help,” says Mamadou Maiga Harouna, a 50-year-old waiter and father of 13 from Lamordé neighborhood. “The dike gave way and the water caught us by surprise, so we didn’t even have time to gather our belongings.”

Serious damage to the roads has cut off some areas and caused diversions on major thoroughfares.

“This is the first time I have witnessed such a phenomenon. There were floods in 2012 that caused damage, but what we are seeing today is really a catastrophe,” said Mamadou. “We really need the NGOs to support us, we really need help. People need somewhere to settle down, and something to eat in the meantime.”