Niger floods claim at least 44 lives; first aid planes arrive


TESSAOUA, NIGER: Hundreds of women in Niger wait in line with their malnourished children to receive aid from the Save The Children Clinic on August 10, 2005. A combination of severe drought and a locust plague caused that famine, which affected at least 2 million people in Niger alone.


Daniel Berehulak

Niger's extreme floods have killed at least 44 people and left 125,000 more homeless. 

The United Nations' Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that at their last count, the flooding had destroyed 14,000 homes and 7,000 crop fields across the country, BBC News reported

The floods have also affected parts of Burkina Faso, damaging crops and homes there as well. 

The first international aid planes, carrying 35 tonnes of mosquito nets, tents and other relief items, arrived in Niamey Sunday, Agence France Presse reported

"It is the first humanitarian aid plane. Others are due to follow," said the World Food Programme's representative in Niger, Denise Brown.

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Niger's government has declared a state of emergency over the floods, and has requested urgent food aid for at least 200 people, the South African Press Association reported

The floods began when the Niger River burst its banks, BBC News reported. Plan International's Niger director Rheal Drisdalle said earlier this month that the river reached levels "not seen since the 1920s." 

West Africa is usually hit by major flooding during its rainy season, especially the low-lying countries such as Nigeria, Niger, Ghana, Benin, Sierra Leone and Senegal, SAPA reported.