John Vidal in Soroti, Uganda
Thursday September 20, 2007
Map of areas affected by flooding
According to the UN yesterday, 18 of the poorest and normally driest countries in Africa, from Senegal, Mauritania, Mali and Burkina Faso in the west, to Kenya, Sudan and Ethiopia in the east, have been seriously hit by months of torrential rains which, meterologists forecast, will continue in places for many more weeks.
"We believe at least 650,000 homes have been destroyed, 1.5 million people affected and nearly 200 people so far drowned," said Elisabeth Brys, at the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) in Geneva. "This is harvest time for many countries and there are already food shortages."
The rains, linked to ocean temperature changes of El Niño, have caught governments off guard. Many of the worst affected regions are remote from capitals and assessments are still being made.
Burkina Faso, Togo and Ghana have declared an official disaster and appealed for emergency international aid. More nations are expected to follow.Photo: An aerial view of a truck stuck in the floods at Akelai, in the Soroti district in Uganda. Photograph: Dan Chung