Over one million people in East Africa are now believed affected by floods. Hundreds of thousands of others in West Africa have also lost their homes or been displaced by floods. As a result, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is now warning of potential food security crises in the regions.
John English is the federation’s disaster management coordinator for East Africa. From Nairobi, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the risk to food security.
“The rains have disrupted the normal agricultural harvests. They have either come at a time when people were harvesting, such as in Uganda, or about to harvest in other countries like Sudan and Ethiopia. This means that people will not have had any food for the next few months. It also means that they are exposed great risks from disease…because they don’t have access to health care. The water in many cases is extremely contaminated,” he says.
English estimates normal economic patterns in flood-affected countries will be disrupted for up to six months.
Which of the East African countries has been hardest it? English says it just depends. “It’s moved around as times progress. In July…pretty well all over Sudan. Now it has affected parts of central Uganda. In fact there’s quite a wide belt across Central Uganda. It’s also affecting the western side of Ethiopia, to the north and the south as well. What’s unusual about the current rainy season is a lot of the rain seems to be happening outside of the normal pattern you would expect,” he says.
Similar conditions are reported in West Africa as well. English says, “There seems to be quite a rain belt across Central Africa at the moment. And that’s forecasted to last until January. I think certainly in the west. It’s difficult to say at the moment what really is going to happen.”
Aid is being distributed to those in need by thousands of volunteers from the local Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. This includes shelter, medical care and clean water. The federal has made three appeals for East Africa totaling $10 million.