Flooding in Mauritania may delay the start of the school year as people
displaced by heavy rains are living in classrooms. Flooding in West Africa is
affecting nearly 600,000 people.
More than 11,000 Mauritanians in the southern Rosso area are receiving assistance from the United Nations World Food Program including cereals, vegetable oil, and sugar.
Prime Minister Moulaye Ould Mohamed Laghdaf is promising to provide clean drinking water to those displaced, and the United Nations Children's Fund is working with the national water company to install pumps.
This area near the Senegal River has been particularly hard hit by heavy rains. Many of those displaced are living in shelters on higher ground seven kilometers north of Rosso along the road to the capital.
That may delay the start of the school year as many children in the area are far from home and some classrooms are being used to house those displaced by the flooding.
Farmer Souleiman Sall is a father of eight.
He says he registered his family for assistance but only one of his wives received aid while he says other women are going from registration center to registration center signing up more than once.
Yacoub Ould Ousman came to Rosso from the flooded area of Satara on a horse cart because he lost his wheelchair.
Ousman says he registered for assistance but his registration was canceled. Some of the people around him are being helped. Others are not. He says he feels like a citizen without a country and does not know what to do because there is no one to complain to.
Yahya Ould Cheikh Mohamed Vall is the governor of Rosso.
Vall says the local government has registered more than 3,000 people who need help because of the flooding. He says the process has been slowed as local authorities have to verify the validity of claims because Vall says many people are coming to Rosso from areas that are not affected by flooding in hopes of getting aid for which they are not entitled.
The area around Rosso is also home to several thousand former refugees who have recently returned to Mauritania from Senegal.
Vall says those refugees already live in better conditions than most Mauritanians as they have been given tents, land, and cattle.
Boubacar Mboje coordinates the repatriation of former refugees around Rosso.
Mboje says most returning refugees live in hangars or small tents without sides, so they are not protected from rains that are destroying much of their personal property.
Aid agencies, including the Lutheran World Federation, are helping control mosquitos, disinfect toilets, and remove garbage.
There has also been flooding in the city of Kaedi and the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott.