Heavy rains force thousands to run for higher ground in Cameroon

Publié: 3 octobre 2013 17:04 CET

By Mirabelle Enaka Kima and Katherine Mueller, IFRC

When the month of September rolls around, residents of northern Cameroon know to expect rain. Last year, they experienced the worst rains in recent memory when heavy downpours caused waterways to burst their banks, leaving entire villages destroyed and as many as 40 people dead.

Torrential rains have again returned to northern Cameroon this year. In mid-September, rushing waters burst the dam along the Logone River in the town of Dougui, in the Far North Region. Initial assessments indicate more than 800 people living near the dam had to be evacuated, including 144 young children. Of four villages in the community, three were seriously affected. Flooding has damaged or destroyed homes, farmland and killed livestock. There is an increased risk of waterborne diseases and acute respiratory syndrome.

“Just over a week later, further torrential rains in the same area burst a second dam, forcing an entire village of approximately 5,000 people to run for safety,” says Djouberou, local committee President, Cameroon Red Cross Society. “Families are now living in the open air along the river banks. They are in desperate need of everything, including shelter, food and health care.”

The government has identified 9,000 people in need of immediate assistance. The Cameroon Red Cross Society has deployed 30 volunteers who, together with other partners, have helped set up tents, and distributed much needed items, from blankets and mosquito nets to kitchen and hygiene kits.

“Support from the volunteers has been invaluable,” says Djouberou. “They have waded into the waters to help families retrieve what personal possessions they can. They have loaded sandbags along the river bank. And they have sat and talked with affected families, providing psychosocial support to help them work through the trauma they are experiencing.”

The IFRC has released emergency funds to provide immediate support to 2,500 people. Using pre-positioned supplies, activities will focus on providing shelter and non-food items to those most vulnerable.