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Flash flooding hits Niger capital during Ramadan

Locals walk through the flooding in Niamey
Locals walk through the flooding in Niamey
August 21, 2012

Severe flooding has reached the capital Niamey over the holy Islamic Ramadan holiday weekend of Eid-ul-Fitr displacing thousands of people and destroying numerous homes.

The Meteorological Center at the Diori Hamani International Airport in Niamey said that overnight Saturday more than six inches of rain fell. The heavy rainfall caused the Niger River to burst its banks in sections of the capital.

Homes in the Banga Banda neighborhood, located along the west bank of the river collapsed, from a combination of incoming river water on one side and fresh water flooding from rainfall on the other side.

Just two weeks ago, half a year’s worth of rain fell in the Doss Region (87 miles from the capital) in just 24 hours destroying thousands of homes and leaving at least 75,000 people homeless. All these people were affected by the Sahel Food Crisis and many of their farms with the 2012 crops were destroyed.

In Banga Banda, Tahirou Hamadou, 35, lost his home to the flood waters.

“This has ruined my Ramadan weekend. There was nothing to celebrate. In the 30 years that I have lived in this house the river has never come so far and we have never had such flooding,” said Hamadou.

“Three days ago we saw the river level rising, so we built a dam from sandbags but when the flood from the rainfall breeched the dam, my house started to fall and I took my family and 2-year old daughter and ran,” added Hamadou.

He and thousands are sheltering in schools across the capital. Displaced persons at CEG School reported as many as nine families camping out in a single classroom.

Plan International’s Regional Disaster Risk Manager, Roland Berehoudougou, who visited some of the affected areas, said Plan is scheduled to meet with government authorities to be briefed on the extent of the situation.

“We need to know what the immediate needs of the flood victims are and whether the government will request external assistance. We are also concerned that with the start of the new school year just weeks away so many schools all over the country are unavailable because they are being used as emergency shelters,” says Berehoudougou.

He said this was not just an isolated incident as Niger is currently coping with four simultaneous emergencies: the Sahel Food Crisis, the Malian refugee crisis, a cholera outbreak and devastating floods.

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