Saturday, August 16, 2008

Flood relief in West Africa, via UN Integrated Regional Information Networks: Disaster relief teams have fanned out across West Africa to assess how badly the region was hit during the past month of heavy rains. Tens of thousands were affected in Togo, Burkina Faso, Niger, Liberia and Mauritania according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA).

In Niger, more than 40,000 thousand people were affected by heavy rains which started on 14 July. In the country's second most populated city, Zinder, hundreds are camping in the local elementary school.

…In Togo, heavy rainfall has led to bridge collapse, and cut off most of the cell phone network. A team from the International Monetary Fund is expected 27 August to review flood damage as a part of its more than US$60 million commitment. Major donors cut off most aid to Togo during recent years of bloody tumult, which included allegedly rigged elections and army crackdowns that sent thousands fleeing to neighbouring countries.

Donors are slowly coming back following Togo's 2007 legislative election, which monitors said was mostly free and fair. According to the World Bank, Togo has accrued more than US$100 million in debt since 2002 from past World Bank loans. The European Union recently approved a five-year more than US$180 million loan, which will partly go toward rebuilding the country's infrastructure.

Elsewhere in West Africa, Liberian government officials have said recent storms are the worst in recent history. They say heavy rainfall and construction on wetlands have pushed out about 1,000 from their homes….

Locator map of West Africa, "E Pluribus," Wikimedia Commons

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