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Emergency Aid Focuses on Meeting Basic Needs of Flood Victims in Benin

Residents board canoes in a city street flooded by an overflowing drainage canal, in the Saint Martin neighborhood of Cotonou, Benin, 9 Oct 2010
Residents board canoes in a city street flooded by an overflowing drainage canal, in the Saint Martin neighborhood of Cotonou, Benin, 9 Oct 2010

The United Nations World Food Program has begun distributing food to 50,000 of the 680,000 people who have been hit by heavy floods in Benin.

After unusually heavy rainfall hit Benin in September, more than 100,000 people have been left homeless. The World Food Program's country director in Benin, Moumini Ouedraogo, said an emergency aid response is important to ensure that the situation does not worsen.

"Basically this is the first time this country has been hit by flooding of this magnitude and aid donors are coming very slowly and there is a fear that if intervention is not done quickly, the situation might deteriorate," said Ouedraogo.

The WFP's first round of emergency aid has just been launched, and it is focused on distributing food to 50,000 people, said Ouedraogo.

"We started an emergency operation to help the people affected by the floods and this consists of what we call an immediate response emergency operation of  $500,0000, and in terms of food value, it's about 300 metric tons," added Ouedraogo. "This is just to get a first distribution to the most effected, and with this commodity we are planning to cover 50,000."

Ouedraogo added that the devastation is widespread, and the WFP hopes to significantly expand its aid to more than 450,000 people. A total of 680,000 people have been adversely affected by the floods.

"It is important because they have been hard hit by the floods, most of them have lost their assets. Their food has been lost," said Ouedraogo. "Their houses have been lost. For instance in some areas, everything, almost everything has been lost and they depend on external assistance to survive."

The WFP country director said that of the $16 million in funding they are hoping to secure, so far they have raised $1.8 million.

Before the floods, an estimated one million people in Benin were already dealing with insecure food supplies, and more than one third of children under five were chronically malnourished.

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