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Floods in Benin Effecting Health and Homes

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

Government officials in Benin warn the country's floods may worsen in coming days as the rainy season continues.

As flooding continues to devastate Benin, residents like Christophe Hounkali say the unsanitary waters that are destroying their homes are also destroying their health.

Hounkali says the spread of disease that was brought about by the floods have already caused the death of one of his children.

Since September, heavy rains have pounded Benin, affecting more than 680,000 people and forcing 180,000 Beninois to leave their homes and live in makeshift shelters.

The United Nations Refugee Program has airlifted 3,000 tents to the most affected areas, where people like Sossavi Agossavi Aguessi say they have lost everything.

Aguessi says they have lost their property, their home and their fields, so now they have come to live in the tents.

The Director General for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Program, Jacques Diouf, said the country will need significant aid in order to recover and plan for next year's crops.

He said there is a need for seeds, fertilizer, livestock food and vaccines

The nation's agricultural sector has been particularly badly affected. Farming accounts for 88 percent of Benin's export revenues and employs 70 percent of the country's workforce.