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WFP rushes emergency food aid to flood victims in West Africa

WFP has rushed to deliver vital supplies to thousands of people who lost their homes and livelihoods after violent floods engulfed parts of West Africa’s Sahel region.

WFP has rushed to deliver vital supplies to thousands of people who lost their homes and livelihoods after violent floods engulfed parts of West Africa’s Sahel region.

Emergency distributions have placed further strain on our limited resources
WFP Mauritania Country Director Gian Carlo Cirri
The situation is particularly precarious in Mauritania, where WFP has mounted an immediate response despite struggling to find sufficient funds for its existing relief operation.

In the south of the country, scene of the most destructive rains, over 9,000 people have received 180 metric tons of food in and around the towns of Rosso and Boutlimit.

Running on a shoestring

“We are working hard to give those who lost everything enough food to sustain them while they re-build their lives,” said WFP Mauritania Country Director Gian Carlo Cirri.

“Our operations here are already running on a shoestring, so these emergency distributions have placed further strain on our limited resources.”

Immediate break

Without additional funding, WFP Mauritania is facing an immediate break in food supplies, threatening key distributions in what remains a difficult period of the year for many of the poorest families.

WFP is working to assist nearly 400,000 people still dealing with the effects of recurrent drought, debt and locust invasions in the largely desert nation.

Sahel 'lean season'

The floods came at the height of the annual ‘lean season’ in the Sahel, as people are still awaiting the next harvest and often struggling to put enough food on the family table.

In Niger, 406 tons of food has already been distributed to over 18,000 flood victims in the regions of Agadez, Zinder, Tahoua and Dosso. These emergency distributions are in conjunction with ongoing distributions through another difficult lean season.

Food distributions

WFP is currently working with the Government to provide general food distributions to over 650,000 people before the new harvest brings relief. This is in addition to ongoing distributions through food-for-work projects and cereal banks, as well as an extensive nutrition programme aimed at young children. The two rounds of general distributions will be completed by mid-October.

Across the Sahel, many people who lost their homes during the heaviest rains have taken refuge with friends and family. Others are living in school buildings, which have to be vacated when classes start in October. The most unfortunate are living rough in their fields.

Light-footed

Families affected by the flooding who have already received food have expressed their relief at being able to contribute to the overall food needs of their host households at what is already a difficult time of year.

“This light-footed, life-saving emergency response is WFP at its most effective, but we would ask our donors to help us ensure it is not done at the expense of our important ongoing work,” said WFP’s Regional Director for West Africa, Mustapha Darboe.