3. West Africa: Thousands displaced by floods (IRIN)

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Higher than average rainfalls were expected in West Africa this season. But the people of Benin couldn’t have anticipated the floods that hit the country. In coastal areas, heavy rains washed over fields and villages. The capital city of Cotonou is submerged. Thousands of people have fled their homes and sought shelter with relatives or in public places.

Alfred Sohou is Benin’s director of civilian protection. He says that, in the past, Benin has resisted appealing for disaster relief. Beninese national pride pushes them to manage. But this year, the country declared a state of emergency and appealed for aid.

The Red Cross and Red Crescent report that flooding has hit many of Benin’s neighbours – Burkina Faso, Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, and Togo. Governments and NGOs are assisting people who were displaced.

According to Mr. Sohou, the worst part is not knowing what will come next. Benin’s heaviest rains normally fall in July. But there is no reliable meteorological information. So people in Benin do not know what will come tomorrow.

-This IRIN article provides more details on flooding and relief efforts in West Africa: http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=85297
-IRIN has compiled emergency contact information for Mozambique, another country that frequently experiences floods: http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=85111
-This news story from a previous FRW looks at how communities in Mozambique prepare for emergencies: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/10/27/3-mozambique-preparing-for-natural-disasters-un-integrated-regional-information-networks/
-Reuters AlertNet provides information on emergency situations around the globe: http://lite.alertnet.org/index.htm?_lite_=1