Months of drought have put nine million people in Chad and Niger at risk of malnutrition and recent flash floods have displaced hundreds of thousands more. Islamic Relief Worldwide will be launching an emergency appeal.
As children around the world begin their school year, those in flood-affected central Africa risk missing out on their education as families seek shelter from the torrential rainfall and flash floods in local schools. With more rains forecast, it is not clear if schools will be ready to accept pupils when they are scheduled to reopen on October 1.
In August, just weeks before communities were due to reap their harvest, heavy floods swept across the Sahel, inundating nearly 60,000 families in Niger and Chad alone.
A double disaster
In April, nearly half of Niger’s population was food insecure. Nine million people in Chad and Niger were at risk of malnutrition due to an extremely low rainfall.
The two countries experienced a prolonged drought which killed both crops and livestock. Families in the region who depended on their harvest to survive saw their crops wither and perish. Communities have gone from having to struggle to access water to being struck by a torrential rainfall that contaminated water sources and hastened the spread of disease.
Effect of the floods
Over 350,000 people in the Niger and Chad have been affected by the floods. In Chad, 70,000 people have been made homeless and in Niger, that figure stands at 200,000.
More than three-quarters of the population in Chad and Niger rely on agricultural produce and livestock to make ends meet. Last year, Chadians saw a third of their cattle perish from malnutrition. Since the recent floods began devastating the region, 80,000 animals have died in Niger and Chad and over 37,000 hectares of farmland have been destroyed, which has crushed the agricultural yield.
Floodwater rapidly stagnates and contaminated water carries with it the threat of serious diseases; since the floods arrived in the Sahel, there have been over 15,000 cases of cholera.
In Niger, Islamic Relief has implemented a blanket feeding programme for young children aged between 6 months and 2 years. We have also opened a therapeutic feeding centre for malnourished children and families in the Tillaberi District.
Islamic Relief plans to increase its therapeutic feeding programme for children in Chad who are malnourished, but we want to prevent the onset of malnutrition. To this end, we aim to implement an exhaustive screening programme in order to identify children at risk and help them to avoid becoming malnourished by giving them access to our feeding programme.
In Chad, Islamic Relief plans to distribute basic items such as mosquito nets, as well as providing food to breastfeeding mothers to help balance their health and assist the development of their babies.