Flooding caused by heavy rains in Niger has killed at least 45 people this week and forced more than 226,000 from their homes.
Niger’s western region has been hardest hit by days of torrential rain that caused the Niger River to overflow, essentially shutting down the capital, Niamey.
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Dozens of mud homes collapsed along the river in the Kirkissoye district and rice fields are submerged.
Prime Minister Brigi Rafini, who visited the affected neighbourhoods and families, was outraged.
He said the situation should not have happened in view of the river dyke rehabilitation work carried out just before the rainy season.
“I thought that the capital of Niamey was safe from flooding,” he said, adding that efforts will be made to protect other threatened areas.
With climate change, “we are never safe from floods”, the prime minister warned.
An emergency appeal had been launched for populations in flood-prone areas to abandon their homes.
Since Monday, rains and flooding have affected at least 25,800 homes, according to the Council of Ministers.
In addition, 64 classrooms and 24 mosques have collapsed and hundreds of granaries have been damaged, the government said.
Niger, one of the world’s driest as well as poorest countries, often experiences intense rainy seasons, which typically last two or three months.
Authorities announced in July that more than 300,000 people were at risk from flooding by the Niger River and from rainwater runoff since heavy rains began in June.
In 2019, at least 57 people were killed and more than 132,500 were displaced by the rains, according to the government.