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Africa Flooding: Though Water Levels Recede in Sub-Saharan Countries, Crisis is Far From Over

Recent flooding affects 14 countries in which World Vision works; children are at risk for disease in the aftermath. (INTERACTIVE)

Ghana, Uganda, and Ethiopia updated October 23, 2007

Please note: If a sponsored child is directly affected by a crisis or disaster, it is World Vision's policy to notify that child's sponsor as soon as possible.

In Ghana, a boat operator returns after transporting some people and their goods across flooded areas. Damage to infrastructure has forced residents to find other means of transporting themselves and obtaining basic needs. © 2007 Esperanza Ampah/World Vision
Following weeks of torrential rainfall in 21 countries across sub-Saharan Africa, floodwaters are receding in some affected areas. Still, more than 1 million people require urgent aid in 14 countries where World Vision operates. Locations hit hardest include Ghana, Sudan, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and Ethiopia. In these places, our teams are concerned about waterborne diseases, outbreaks of malaria, and locust swarms as floodwaters recede.

"Along with the need to prevent and treat possible disease, immediate needs are for shelter and food, as many houses and crops have been washed away," says Paul Sitnam, World Vision's emergency response director for West Africa. "Our greatest concern is to reach children who are most vulnerable, but roads and bridges have been destroyed, making access difficult."

Meanwhile, Southern Africa continues to suffer an ongoing drought responsible for severe food shortages and crop failure; there, World Vision teams also are coordinating responses to meet urgent needs.


After weeks of torrential rain and spillage from Bagre Dam in neighboring Burkina Faso, Ghana's government declared disaster areas in the flooded Northern, Upper East, and Upper West regions.

Reports from previously inaccessible areas now put the death toll at 46, including one World Vision-sponsored child who drowned while trying to cross a swollen river. More than 332,000 people have been affected; many have sought shelter in local schools, public buildings, or with relatives. Floodwaters have destroyed housing, submerged farmlands, contaminated water, and damaged schools.

Nearly 60,000 people in nine World Vision-operational areas have been affected, including more than 22,760 registered children whose parents' or relatives' farms have been damaged.

World Vision field teams continue assessing needs and offering counseling to flood-affected children. Many are now facing psychological trauma associated with the destruction of their homes and livelihoods. An emergency response team in the Northern Region is facilitating relief distributions to the affected population, as well as disinfecting water sources in the area's flooded communities, the site for our West Africa Water Initiative.


In Sudan, more than 200,000 people and 44,000 households in five World Vision program areas have been affected; 54 people reportedly have died, but this number remains unconfirmed. Major needs include shelter materials and emergency food aid.

Access to flooded areas is limited, particularly the Upper Nile region, where a World Vision health clinic has collapsed. In response, World Vision:

  • Has distributed food rations to more than 10,550 flood-affected survivors in coordination with the World Food Program (WFP);
  • Has distributed emergency shelter materials to nearly 2,600 households in the Upper Nile region as of Sept. 27; and
  • Plans to distribute shelter materials to as many as 4,000 additional households in that region, and up to 1,500 households in Bahr el Ghazal state.
Our staff reports more funding is urgently needed to address potential disease outbreaks, provide more non-food emergency items, and support airlifting of supplies into flooded areas.

INTERACTIVE: World Vision's Response

Paul Sitnam, emergency response director for West Africa, speaks with the Moody Broadcasting Network. Listen online and learn more about World Vision's relief efforts for flood-affected children and families.


In Kenya, at least 20,000 people have been affected by flooding in the Budalangi area. Some 832 families have taken refuge in six displacement camps. Kenya's government is responding to the crisis, conducting ongoing airdrops of food supplies.

Four World Vision program areas — Bunyala, Karemo, Katiti, and Winam — have suffered flood damage. In Bunyala, 1,300 of the 3,500 World Vision-sponsored children have been affected.

Our staff is working with community leaders to evacuate villagers by canoe and provide them with emergency supplies. So far, we have distributed 2,500 blankets, 1,400 tarps, 3,750 jerry cans of water (20 liters each), 1,400 plastic buckets (10 liters each), 20 mobile toilets, 50,000 water purification kits, and 125,000 purification tablets.


Though no World Vision program areas have suffered damages in Rwanda, floods have affected the Rubrau and Nyabihu districts in the North Western province of Rwanda since mid-September. About 7,000 people have been displaced and 1,020 houses destroyed or damaged. At least 15 people have drowned.

A WFP assessment has highlighted the need for food assistance in the coming six months until the next harvest. So far, World Vision has distributed 10 tons of enriched flour to support the nutritional needs of 1,700 children; we also have provided 80 cartons of chlorine to assist with water purification.


Uganda's heaviest rains since 1963 have displaced more than 300,000 people, claimed 21 lives, washed out roads, and submerged bridges. World Vision's 31-member team is distributing 3,000 emergency response kits to those most seriously affected.
Uganda's heaviest rains since 1963 have displaced more than 300,000 people, claimed 21 lives, washed out roads, and submerged bridges. World Vision's 31-member team is distributing 3,000 emergency response kits to those most seriously affected. © 2007 David Sseppuuya/World Vision
Water and sanitation are the most urgent issues in flood-affected areas here. An estimated two-thirds of water sources have been contaminated by flooded sanitation facilities, contributing to a 30-percent rise in waterborne illnesses, malaria, and respiratory-tract infections.

Most of the current harvest has been destroyed, creating the risk of serious food shortages. Flooding also has washed away bridges and damaged link roads, creating a major challenge for aid operations, even as floodwaters recede.

School closures are another major issue; nearly 300, which educate at least 100,000 children, have not yet reopened. Some schools are serving as temporary shelters, while others remain closed because they lack sanitation facilities.

Uganda's president declared a state of emergency in northern and eastern parts of the country, where floods have displaced more than 300,000 people and claimed 21 lives. An initial assessment showed that floods affect about 432 World Vision-registered children in the following areas: Arapai, Tubur, Kamuda, Aboke, Aver and Namanyonyi.

Our 30-member team distributed relief items to nearly 10,000 people in about 1,500 households affected by the floods. Each household received an emergency response kit complete with tarps for shelter, mosquito nets, soap, emergency latrines, a water can, water purification tablets, and high-energy biscuits.

World Vision is working alongside other humanitarian agencies and will soon distribute food provided by the World Food Program to nearly 230,000 people over the next six months, with a special priority to provide for orphans and child-headed households. Long-term plans include distributing seeds and tools to help with food security and facilitating sanitation by providing supplies for new latrines.


Torrential rains and overflowing rivers in Ethiopia have destroyed crops and food supplies; 17 people and more than 4,000 livestock are confirmed dead. Though various reports are conflicting, a United Nations humanitarian spokesperson says fresh rains in western Ethiopia have caused new flooding around the town of Gambella, raising the number of flood-affected Ethiopians to 239,000.

Eleven World Vision program areas in the country have been affected, and an estimated 66,000 people need assistance. World Vision is distributing temporary shelter materials and other relief supplies, including seeds for farmers whose crops have been destroyed.

Our staff members across Africa are continuing to monitor the situation as floodwaters recede.

Learn More

>> Listen to a Moody Broadcasting Network interview with Paul Sitnam, World Vision's emergency response team leader for West Africa.

Four Ways You Can Help

>> Pray for the millions affected by the recent flooding in Africa, especially vulnerable children. Pray also for aid organizations like World Vision, that their efforts would help alleviate the suffering and bring relief to children and families who need it the most.
>> Donate now to World Vision's Disaster Response Fund. Your contribution will help us to quickly deliver aid in the midst of disasters like the current flooding in Africa.
>> Sponsor a child in Ghana, Uganda, or Kenya. World Vision sponsorship provides additional assistance to children during times of crisis; the program also helps children and their communities rebuild their lives after disasters.
>> Provide a family with a bed net through World Vision's Gift Catalog. Your gift will help keep away mosquitoes that carry malaria, a disease that kills a child every 30 seconds in Africa.

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