Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Disasters in Africa

As normal, Africa is being hurt by natural disasters, all of which could well be mitigated and the damage minimised if such policies were a priority.

Since October 2019, heavy rains have affected at least 170,000 people in the three most affected departments alone, including 30,000 Central African and Congolese refugees.

• Flooding caused by the overflow of the Oubangui and Congo rivers has damaged infrastructure and impeded access to food, water, education and health care.

• Homes, schools and health centres in affected areas are flooded and only accessible by boat.

• Priority needs are water, sanitation, shelter, food and essential non-food items.

• The government declared a state of natural disaster and humanitarian emergency in Likouala, Cuvette and Plateaux departments on 19 November 2019.
The toll could increase in the coming days.

The United Nations Resident Coordinator for Angola, Paolo Balladelli, today called on the international community and humanitarian organizations to scale-up their support for people living on the frontlines of the climate crisis in southern Angola. “Southern Angola is experiencing the devastating consequences of climate change. Temperatures in 2019 were the highest in 45 years and drought is driving increasing hunger and malnutrition, especially in Cunene, Huíla, Bié and Namibe provinces,” said Mr. Balladelli, during a mission to Cunene Province.

The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in Angola reached 2.3 million at the height of the drought this year. In Cunene alone, at least 80 per cent of the population, some 860,000 people, needed urgent support. “This is three times more than at the beginning of the year,” explained Mr. Balladelli. “Thanks to CERF’s generous funding, we have been able to reach more than 640,000 people with vital food, health, nutrition, water and hygiene interventions in the four provinces hardest-hit by the drought. The project complements the Government’s own efforts to respond to this dire situation and save lives. However, more must urgently be done,” he added.

Rising needs are forcing families to take desperate measures to survive, with girls and women bearing the brunt of the crisis. “In Caculuvale, I heard heart-breaking stories from families who are struggling to survive and met with children suffering from severe acute malnutrition. I was told by doctors that these are the highest rates of admission they have seen in many years,” said Ms. Connell, from OCHA, the UN humanitarian arm. “In rural areas, women are having to walk longer distances to bring home food and water, exposing them to the risk of violence, while an increasing number of children are dropping-out of school: the girls to support their mothers, and the boys to go with their fathers to find pasture.”
Nearly one million people have been drastically affected by flash floods following unprecedented rainfall in South Sudan. Thousands have been displaced from their homes and seen their livelihoods destroyed; many towns are completely submerged.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and partners are ramping up their humanitarian response to affected communities in counties declared to be in a “state of emergency” by the Government of South Sudan.

“The level of destruction caused by the floods is unfathomable. People have nowhere to sleep, children are sick, there is no food to eat,” said IOM South Sudan Chief of Mission, Jean-Philippe Chauzy.

Many people in affected areas are unable to access to health care facilities, nutrition centres and other basic services. While impassible roads and waterlogged airstrips have put some interventions on hold, IOM has made significant progress to provide lifesaving assistance.
“We cannot forget that in crises, vulnerable populations, especially women and children, are more likely to face gender-based-violence and other kinds of abuse,” said Chauzy.

“Protection and safeguarding are at the cornerstone of all of our activities and it is important that as we provide immediate emergency relief we also tackle protection issues,” he continued.

Even when the rains stop, the need for continued assistance will remain. Inevitable outbreaks of waterborne diseases, destruction of homes and lost livelihoods will require sustained support so that families can live in dignity as they rebuild.

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