KHARTOUM, SUDAN – SEPTEMBER 8: A view of the site damaged by flood during heavy rainfall in Al Lamab of Khartoum, Sudan on September 8, 2020.
Mahmoud Hjaj / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
From Senegal to Ethiopia and beyond, record levels of flooding are devastating the African Sahel. The United Nations is warning that the situation could worsen in September.
On September 7th, Senegal recorded 124 millimeters of rain during a seven hour downpour. This is the same amount that would normally be expected during the entire rainy season from July to September and prompted the authorities of the West African coastal nation to activate an emergency relief plan.
The unprecedented rainfall has decimated homes, cattle and plantations in several countries that are already fighting the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, widespread food insecurity and a host of other simultaneous shocks such as the historic locust outbreak in different parts of the east and various violent conflicts have fought.
In Nigeria, particularly in the northwestern state of Kebbi, floods have damaged more than 500,000 acres of agricultural produce worth around 5 billion naira ($ 13 million), according to NKC African Economics. Rice farmers in the region raised food security and business sustainability concerns amid the lack of harvest this year while agricultural production was hit by terrorism and banditry.
"Prices in Nigeria had soared before the floods due to import restrictions and naira weakness, and the heavy rainfall will only worsen the situation," NKC political scientist Zaynab Mohamed said in a report on Wednesday.
DAKAR, Senegal – Residents transport their belongings on a horse that pulls a cart through the floods in the Keurs Massar area of Dakar on September 7, 2020 after heavy rains in Senegal.
SEYLLOU / AFP via Getty Images
In Niger the Niger overflowed and closed the capital of the country, Niamey. According to the latest available data from the country's Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, at least 45 people have been killed and around 226,000 displaced. More than 1,500 families have now been evicted from their homes in northern Cameroon.
Sudan declared a three-month state of emergency on September 4th. Rainfalls destroyed around 100,000 homes and killed more than 100 people. Water sources, schools and health facilities were damaged by the thousands. The UN Bureau for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) has said that a $ 1.6 billion aid plan to Sudan is less than 44% funded and that aid supplies are depleted.
In South Sudan, according to the country's state news agency, more than 100 people have died and an estimated 5,000 people have been displaced by the overflow of the White Nile, while floods also devastated parts of Ghana, Burkina Faso and Mali.
The Sahel and savanna regions of Africa faced triple threats to socio-economic resilience and food security over the past year. The floods exacerbated existing challenges from the Covid-19 pandemic and locust outbreaks.
"As a result, people's livelihoods have been severely compromised and household resilience has been reduced in countries with minimal fiscal space for disaster management and relief," said Mohamed of NKC.
Floods occur regularly during the rainy season. However, this year's rainfall was exceptional across the board, underscoring the impacts of climate change feared by governments and humanitarian organizations. UNOCHA has warned that the rain forecast for September is likely to exacerbate the current crisis.
"Lack of investment in infrastructure will result in persistent food insecurity and vulnerability after floods, while large numbers of displaced people and increased land competition resulting from land degradation caused by the floods add to political and conflict risk "Projected Mohamed.