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Fourth crisis in months hits children in Niger

Buildings damaged by floods lie in ruins
Buildings damaged by floods lie in ruins
August 20, 2012

Barely escaping with their lives and with just the clothes they were wearing, thousands of children and their families are in need of assistance following the worst flooding in living history in Dosso Region, Niger.

The flood was triggered by a half-year’s worth of rainfall that swept through numerous villages in five regions of Dosso in less than 24 hours causing more than 1,200 houses to collapse.

“This is a children’s emergency as eight out of every 10 people affected are children who are in need of shelter, clothing, and food,” said Rheal Drisdelle, Country Director for Plan Niger.

“Our first distribution of relief aid has started providing each household with a pesticide-treated mosquito net to protect against malaria, a blanket as well as enough rice and oil to last two weeks,” he added.

In the village of Sandidey where 233 households received emergency supplies on Thursday, Village Chief Moussa Ide said the most pressing need is to relocate people sheltering in the school and get it ready for the new school year in October.

“I’ve lived here since I was born 66 years ago and I have never witnessed such floods,” he said. His household, comprising four houses, was one of the first to collapse as the powerful flood waters swept straight through the village.

“For those of us, whose fields have survived, we are hoping for a good harvest in six weeks time but even if it is good and we make good money, we are faced with the decision – do we use the money to build back our homes or do we eat for the next year. It is difficult. We need help,” he said.

His 11-year old niece Ouma, said: “The people need help to move out of the school so that we can go back to school. If no one helps then we will not be able to go to school.”

Plan, one of the first international NGOs on the scene, is appealing for $250,000. Emergency Manager Mamadou Madougou said this is to meet immediate needs while they assess requirements for relocating those who are homeless.

Preliminary results show that 1,273 farms have been destroyed, 1,243 homes have been destroyed and 989 others damaged. This is the fourth emergency affecting children in recent months. Plan is also responding to the Sahel food crisis, the Malian refugee crisis and a cholera outbreak.

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