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On the ground

Deadly flooding spreads across Africa’s Sahel region

Residents pour out the waters of the Blue Nile floods from their backyard within the Al-Ikmayr area of Omdurman in Khartoum, Sudan, August 27, 2020.
Residents pour out the waters of the Blue Nile floods from their backyard within the Al-Ikmayr area of Omdurman in Khartoum, Sudan, August 27, 2020. © Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah, Reuters
3 min

Record floods have inflicted severe damage across the Sahel region in recent weeks, leaving dozens dead and tens of thousands homeless from Sudan to Senegal.

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Sudan has been the hardest hit country, with at least 102 people dead and tens of thousands of homes destroyed or damaged, according to the interior ministry. Authorities have declared a three-month state of emergency, and the government has allocated more than 150 million Sudanese pounds (US$2.73 million) to help flood victims.

“There has never been so much destruction,” said one Khartoum resident.

In Niger, more than 60 are dead and many more displaced. Families in several neighbourhoods of the capital Niamey were forced to evacuate on Sunday after a levee on the right bank of the Niger River burst following heavy rains.

In Senegal, a seven-hour downpour left the area surrounding the capital Dakar submerged for days and killed six people. Senegalese President Macky Sall activated an emergency aid plan in response to what the country’s Water Minister called “exceptional rainfall”.

Most recently, floods killed at least 13 people and injured 19 others in Burkina Faso following days of heavy rains across the country, including the capital, the government said on Wednesday.

Experts say deforestation along riverbanks has made flooding worse throughout the Sahel region and around the world. Forests prevent soil erosion and act as a buffer against flooding, while barren land is less able to hold water from heavy rains.

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