Planetark.org, Aug. 16, 2007
Now many are struggling to survive after downpours swept away food stocks, destroyed thousands of homes and killed well over 100 people across the Sahel, which stretches from
"This country is a paradox. Floods are just one of the natural disasters which hit it regularly, after bush fires and drought," said Hamani Harouna, head of the national humanitarian Early Warning System in impoverished
Last month, farmers in nearby
Since then there has been a deluge.
Scientists have told the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that rising temperatures around the world will contribute to changing weather patterns in the
Some have fingered global warming as a factor behind extreme temperatures, storms and drought around the world this year.
In Sudan, Africa's biggest country and the worst affected by recent weather, floods have carried away or drowned more than 70 people since the rains began -- which in Sudan's case came earlier than usual.
"The rains started at the very beginning of July. Normally they start a bit later with this intensity," Maurizio Giuliano, spokesman for UN humanitarian coordinator OCHA, told Reuters.
At least 365,000 people there have lost food stocks, possessions or part of their home, including 50,000 whose homes were completely destroyed, OCHA said.
The agency expects further rainfall and flooding will affect 265,000 more people in the coming weeks, while flood waters have contaminated water sources and spread cholera, bringing the death toll from the water-borne disease to 53 this rainy season, according to the World Health Organisation.
"We have to be prepared for the worst possible scenario," Giuliano said.
"It's a disastrous situation. Lots of people have taken refuge in trees or in schools -- those which were not flattened," Bakary Tchaksam, a journalist working a local radio station in southwestern
"This is the first time anything like this has happened here. There's a sense of being powerless," he said.
After a late start in western parts of the
Mud houses, which are cheap and practical during the dry season and generally survive the rains with a few annual repairs, proved no match for this year's violent weather.
"Houses flooded and some have collapsed," Gueladio Ba told Reuters by phone from Thies in
"In some parts of town the water was more than a metre (yard) deep," he said. "The destruction is enormous. We haven't seen rain like this for 30 years."