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Martin Penner, a former journalist, has worked for WFP since 2008.
WFP has started distributing vital food rations to the victims of widespread flooding across West Africa, launching emergency operations in Burkina Faso, Niger and Mauritania for thousands of people in the worst affected areas.
ROME – Heavy flooding across the West Africa region has affected hundreds of thousands of people, leaving large swathes of the population in need of food assistance. In Burkina Faso alone some 150,000 people -- mainly in the capital Ouagadougou -- have been forced to flee their homes.
“People’s lives have been turned upside-down overnight and WFP is moving as swiftly as possible to minimise the impact,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran. “It is always the poor and vulnerable who suffer the most from floods like these as their few remaining assets have been swept away, leaving them hungry and destitute.”
WFP began distributions in Ougadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, last Friday and has already provided rations to 50,000 flood-affected people – almost half of the target of 125,000. WFP is giving adults a 15-day ration of cereals, pulses and vegetable oil, while children get a monthly ration that also includes sugar and nutritious corn-soya blend.
Many of those in urgent need of assistance in Ouagadougou were already benefiting from WFP programmes but lost their rations in the rising waters. With many having fled their flooded homes, WFP is providing beneficiaries with assistance wherever they have managed to find shelter.
In Niger, WFP started distributing assistance yesterday to 41,000 people, who were left hungry and homeless after a dyke near the northern town of Agadez burst its banks. Using stocks from its existing operations in the country, WFP will provide 15-day rations to all beneficiaries.
The Mauritanian border town of Rosso, which stands on the banks of the Senegal River, has also been lashed by heavy rains and devastated by floods. When possible, WFP is planning to distribute food to around 11,500 people.