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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid