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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid