Ivory Coast: Heavy rain kills six

Friday, July 4, 2008
eavy rains in Abidjan have displaced 450 families and killed six people.

“It rained all day on Sunday. At one point, the water level started to rise and the rain didn’t stop. After three hours, all the houses were flooded with water and everyone was trying to save themselves,” said Karim Ouedraogo, an Abidjan resident whose home was flooded.

Every year in West Africa, high rainfall combined with poor drainage, canals blocked with rubbish, and the large number of people in the region living in informal settlements means floods have a severe humanitarian consequences.

Meteorologists have warned that the region is likely to experience even higher than average rainfall in 2008. And changes in the climate also mean that rain is often falling in areas which previously received little or no precipitation.

Floods are significant because it is the poorest and most vulnerable people who are worst affected because they live in the riskiest areas and have the weakest houses, often made of mud or scrap.

In Cote d’Ivoire, which is one of the first West African countries to be affected by major flood-related displacement this year, the government has stepped in with essential supplies, shelter, and money for the displaced.

The government said in a statement that poor construction standards were to blame for the devastation. “Routes meant to drain water way have been blocked by the anarchic construction and people have built in areas which are at risk of flooding,” the minister for construction, urbanization and buildings said.