Heavy rains leave hundreds homeless

Heavy rains that hit Ouagadougou on 25 May left 542 people homeless, over half of them children, Gabriel Semdé, the provincial director of the government ministry for social welfare and national solidarity, told IRIN.

Up to 93 families lost their homes in two of Ouagadougou’s districts. The families are currently sheltered in local schools and community centres.

Most of the homes were mud huts which are often easily destroyed in floods.

“Some victims lost everything in the rains,” Gabriel Semdé said. “And this is just the start of the rainy season.”

The National Committee for Emergency Aid and Rehabilitation (CONASUR) said it delivered 20 tents and basic food to some of the displaced families and that it was preparing to deliver more.

“We are giving [the homeless] basic provisions and we are stockpiling in case we face more floods in the future,” Amadé Belem, CONASUR’s permanent secretary told IRIN.

The UN Humanitarian Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) representative in Burkina Faso, Félix Sanfo, told IRIN that OCHA is “closely watching the situation” in partnership with the CONASUR.

Semdé and Belem said they were angry that the government had not made more progress in improving drainage in flood-prone neighbourhoods, given that floods occur each year.

“We must now work to prepare drainage in all parts of the city”, Semdé said.

Burkina Faso was one of the West African countries hardest-hit by floods in 2007, with 83 people killed, 140,000 displaced and 26,800 houses destroyed. All 13 of the country’s regions were affected.

Despite a UN appeal launched in October 2007 for US$6 million to help rebuild homes some families have reportedly still not receive assistance.

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