September 18, 2007
ACT members respond to worst flooding in “any recent memory”
GENEVA, September 17, 2007–Recent heavy rains have caused extensive flooding and damage throughout much of west, central and east Africa. The floods have destroyed homes, farmland and local infrastructure, while displacing hundreds of thousands of people.
Members of the global alliance, Action by Churches Together (ACT) International have been assisting people since early August, as the emergencies began to unfold. ACT member responses are ongoing throughout Uganda, Sudan and Chad, meeting the needs of tens of thousands of affected people.
Craig Kippels, ACT member, Lutheran World Federation’s representative in Uganda says, “Extremely vulnerable individuals cannot access the main sources of food, including women headed households, child headed households, the elderly and people living with AIDS.”
The heavy rains started in mid-July, which resulted in flooding in the low-lying areas of Amuria and Katakwi where Lutheran World Federation (LWF) is responding. “The region has not experienced flooding of this magnitude in any recent memory,” added Mr. Kippels. “Affected communities are living under leaking roofs, dump floors and cracking walls.”
LWF staff estimate that more than 10,000 families are currently displaced by the flooding and that people have moved to higher ground. “The most urgent needs are tarpaulins, mosquito nets, blankets and water containers,” said Mr. Kippels. “We were the first ones in the displaced communities and we have started distributions with ACT funding.”
The greatest damage has been to agriculture and the first harvest season will be totally lost as crops are rotting in the water. In one village alone, Bisina Ngariam, approximately 60 acres of groundnuts, 37 acres of cassava, 22 acres of potatoes and 45 acres of sorghum are all submerged and the food is unsalvageable.
Responding to the current and future food security crisis, LWF is implementing assistance to meet the needs of 5,000 people through food distribution and further agriculture assistance. LWF is also working to provide shelter assistance to 2,000 people with damaged or destroyed homes, who are now living in schools, churches or with other relatives.
“We are very well positioned to work within the communities. We [were already] there and can do much to help the people that we were already serving prior to the floods,” shared Mr. Kippels. The current flood assistance has been integrated into an ACT appeal already issued for the same area earlier in the year.
LWF has been present and working with vulnerable populations in the Katakwi and Amuria districts for the last four years and is the largest NGO in the area with two offices and fifty staff. LWF is coordinating with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) as well as local and district leaders.
North Kordofan, Sudan
Massive flooding in North Kordofan, Sudan has severely affected homes, infrastructure, social service facilities, farms, properties and livestock. People have been left homeless in a situation that is complicated by minimal emergency preparedness in the region.
“What is deeply concerning is that it is not just people in villages that are being affected, but farmland is being washed away,” said Dr. Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, chairperson of the Sudan Social Development Organisation (SUDO), an implementing partner of ACT member, Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) in the North Kordofan floods appeal.
“The problem is the unpredictability of the weather, which is having such a devastating impact. It started raining earlier than in the past, and has just carried on and on,” shared Dr. Adam.
NCA and SUDO are planning to provide emergency support to 1,000 vulnerable and urban families through non-food item and shelter materials. Other assistance includes rehabilitation of community infrastructure as well as sanitation and health services to prevent waterborne-diseases from spreading.
ACT members may adjust their intervention plans as the situation is currently in flux with the distinct possibility of more flooding. NCA and SUDO are coordinating with national and international NGOs in El Obeid and with the relevant government departments.
The rainy season in eastern Chad has created another flood emergency, dramatically affecting people in and around Koukou, in the border region with Darfur, Sudan. Continual rain has not only hampered the logistics and transportation of aid, but has also created a sanitation and health situation for those living in flood-affected areas.
ACT members, LWF and NCA, working in the Habile camps have helped close to 500 people, whose homes were flooded, to relocate to an evacuation site on higher ground. Non-food items have also been distributed to underserved families in the Habile camps and the nearby flood evacuation site.
“Malaria is beginning to be huge problem. One of the things we have done is distribute local mosquito nets to those who have been relocated,” said Maria Immonen from LWF.
The Aradib camp, near Koukou, is currently cut off by a flooded wadi and it is reported that people are swimming across trying to retrieve assistance.
ACT members are in the first phase of their assistance to conflict-affected internally displaced persons (IDPs) in camps near Koukou. While the initial operation has experienced some transportation and logistical challenges, much work has been accomplished to lay the foundation for a large-scale intervention in the face of a complex emergency situation.
LWF and NCA are coordinating their efforts with OCHA, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), UNICEF and with local churches and populations.
The BBC reports that Northern Ghana has been particularly hit by floods with close to 400,000 people affected with many of them homeless. ACT member, Christian Aid has a staff person in the region and is currently assessing the flood situation with its implementing partners.
ACT members will continue to assess the changing flood situations as weather conditions continue to be in flux and respond accordingly.
Action by Churches Together (ACT) International is a global alliance of churches and related agencies working to save lives and support communities in emergencies worldwide. PWRDF is a member of ACT International.