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Africa facing flood crisis
This photo shows a general view of an unspecified area in Upper East Region, Ghana inundated by flood waters 07 September 2007. UN agencies and the Red Cross on Tuesday warned that the worst floods seen in parts of Africa for decades were intensifying and appealed for international aid to avert disease
DAKAR, September 18, 2007 - Forecasters were predicting Tuesday further downpours in the coming days over much of Africa, where at least 270 people have already died from flooding and one million are affected.
"We anticipate that the situation will worsen," said Elizabeth Byrs from the UN Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), adding that heavy rains were forecast in west Africa between 18 and 24 September.
Torrential rain described as the worst in 30 years had resulted in floods stretching "from the Atlantic coast to the Red Sea," Byrs said. Fears of outbreak of waterborne diseases have also been heightened.
Sudan was the worst hit of the countries in terms of confirmed deaths with 64 so far as a direct result of floods and 49 from cholera.
According to the country's health ministry, entire regions are exposed to outbreaks of malaria, cholera, meningitis and other waterborne diseases.
On the other side of the continent, Ghana has suffered 32 deaths and more than a quarter of a million people have been affected in the north where cases of cholera, dysentry and diarrhoea have been diagnosed.
Authorities in Ghana have declared a state of emergency and launched an appeal for international aid.
UN disaster experts arrived in Ghana's flood-stricken area of Tamale for an assessment mission to help establish a humanitarian coordination centre.
According to tolls received by AFP, 41 people have died in Nigeria, 22 in Burkina Faso, 20 in Togo, 18 in Rwanda, a dozen in Niger, four in Somalia and Morocco, two in Mauritania and one in Ethiopia.
According to OCHA, cited by local media, at least 10 people have died in Uganda and tens of thousands of people have been displaced. Some 50,000 households, or around 300,000 people in all are affected.
The situation is particularly critical in Uganda's eastern Teso region, especially in the districts of Katakwi and Amuria, where some 50,000 people have been forced to flee their homes.
OCHA says contamination of water sources is widespread and there are fears of cholera outbreaks. Health centres in the affected areas are also experiencing shortages of critical drugs to treat malaria, diarrhoeal diseases and respiratory infections.
"The people most affected by the flooding in the northeastern part of Uganda are the same people who have endured 20 years of civil war and have lived in internally displaced camps for more than a decade," said Kevin Fitzcharles, head of the Uganda office of the British relief agency CARE International.
CARE also said it was providing relief to parts of Ethiopia where a dam collapsed due to the rains, leaving about 4,500 people isolated.
International aid organisations have launched appeals for humanitarian aid.
The UN's World Food Programme appealed for 60 million dollars (43 millions euros) in aid for Uganda.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent launched an initial emergency appeal for 1.2 million dollars (890,000 euros) to help 60,000 people with relief aid in Ghana but warned that it was set to expand.
It said that "extensive, recurrent and devastating flooding" now affected 17 African countries, with Burkina Faso and Togo particularly hard-hit by the latest rainfall. More rain was also expected in Ghana.
"With the next harvest in May 2008, it is imperative these populations receive longer term assistance in the form of seeds and farming tools in order to avoid possible famines or chronic malnutrition," said the statement.
The German foreign ministry said it would increase its aid for African countries affected by the flooding to 430,000 euros from 300,000.