News / Africa

West Africa Bracing for Harsh Rainy Season

A barge transports vehicles across the River Niger channel in Lokoja, Kogi State, following flooding along the River Niger and Benue confluence in central Nigeria, Sept. 24, 2012.
A barge transports vehicles across the River Niger channel in Lokoja, Kogi State, following flooding along the River Niger and Benue confluence in central Nigeria, Sept. 24, 2012.
Jennifer Lazuta
As the rainy season begins in West and Central Africa, meteorological experts are warning of above average rainfall, flash floods and overflowing rivers in the western Sahel.   Aid agencies say that early preparation is key to reducing the risks associated with such natural disasters, as well as building up people’s resilience to deal with the aftermath. 

Experts from the African Center of Meteorological Applications for Development (ACMAD) say that rainfall in West and Central Africa could exceed 130 percent of normal precipitation this year.

The chief of ACMAD’s Department of Climate and Environment, Andrea Kamga, said the monsoon rains are likely to begin close to the normal onset period - which is late June to early July in the western Sahel region - but are likely to be heavier than usual this year.

“The area where we are expecting an increase in the number of heavy rain events  is Zone 1, which covers southern Mauritania, Senegal, northern Guinea, Conakry, all the way to southern Mali, most of Burkina Faso and the western part of Niger,” said Kamga.

Last year, flooding in the region affected more than three million people. The majority of flood victims were in Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Senegal.

The United Nation’s Regional Emergency Response Advisor for West and Central Africa, Laurent Dufour, said that governments and aid agencies are not only gearing up ahead of the rains this year, but also putting in place long-term strategies for reducing flood risk.

“This year a lot more countries are taking extra measures to prepare for the rainy season because they have been greatly affected by last year’s floods.  In particular, Nigeria has already taken steps as early as February by releasing a seasonal outlook.  Other countries have also been active in clearing up drainage canals and improving the flow of water," said Dufour.

Dufour said that in Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, for example, more than six kilometers of drainage channels have already been cleared and made operational again.

He said that in Dakar, Senegal, authorities are also working to clear drainage systems, as well as planning for the relocation of thousands of families who live in high-risk flood areas.

For those people in the region who can’t or won’t relocate, Dufour said that aid agencies are currently working to improve their ability to cope with possible floods.

He noted this includes short-term measures, such as rebuilding or fortifying homes and preparing emergency disaster kits, and long-term ones, such as teaching people to adapt to shorter crop cycles in order to reduce the impact of floods on agricultural output.

Despite these efforts, West Africa still faces many challenges when it comes to dealing with heavy rains.

“Because of rapid urban growth, because of rapid third world demographics, areas which were traditionally not being used for settlement - for housing - are increasingly being occupied by newcomers. These people may not be aware of the pattern of events, in particular floods, in that area. But they are very much exposed and they don’t have much opportunity or choices to find better or more suitable places to live," said the advisor.

Dufour said authorities across the region must now work on improving land use and land planning.

In the meantime, ACMAD’s Kamga urges governments and aid agencies to continue to closely monitor meteorological reports for the most up-to-date weather predictions.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs