Niger floods kill 51, drive thousands from their homes

SEVERE flooding in Niger this month has killed 51 people and destroyed thousands of homes after torrential rains caused rivers to burst their banks, authorities said on Monday.

Floods are common during Niger’s rainy season, when overflowing rivers and streams sweep away homes and destroy crops.

Since flooding started earlier in August, over 26,000 houses have collapsed, killing 37 people, while 14 others drowned, the ministry for humanitarian response said in a statement.

President Mahamadou Issoufou visited District 5 of the capital Niamey on Monday, which had been flooded by the adjacent Niger River. Residents stood ankle-deep in brown water that had swept through their homes, a Reuters reporter said.

In a later statement, Issoufou said urgent steps were needed to support the 281,000 people affected by the floods across the country.

Largely desert, Niger is one of the world’s least developed countries.

As of early 2020, over 2.9 million people were in need of humanitarian aid due to insecurity, the cyclical floods, epidemic diseases, droughts or displacement, according to the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF. – Thomson Reuters Foundation.