TOGO: Flood victims continue leaving school shelters

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

One month after floods pushed them out of their homes, more than 10,000 flood victims have left temporary government-run shelters in schools, according to the Ministry of Security and Civilian Protection.

Togo’s Zio and Haho rivers overflowed during heavy rainfalls from 15 to 27 July. The Togolese Red Cross estimated six deaths, 80 injuries, and thousands left homeless throughout the country. Government officials said the storms crushed nine bridges, cutting off access to northern flood victims.

The European Union has pledged more than US$1m for bridge repair work and rural road development.

Flood victim Adjoavi Lamega said she knew it was time to leave the school where she sought shelter three weeks ago. “We are almost all from the Adamavo neighborhood. The authorities convinced us that our children needed to start school on time, and that staying here would not help our situation. The camps gave us food to last us a few days, and school supplies for our children.”

Togo’s school year is scheduled to start on 22 September.

Togolese Red Cross volunteers handed out school supplies to departing families with children, along with 50 kg sacks of rice and corn, a 25 kg bag of manioc flour, five litres of cooking oil, about 2 kg of salt, and soap.

Minister of Security and Civilian Protection, Titikpina Atcha, told IRIN that while people cannot control nature, they can control the outcome. “We have no solutions against flooding. Those who are leaving [the camps] should move to safer places elsewhere. It is up to the families to get ready so that they don't face this next year.”

Based on meteorological forecasts, disaster relief staff from international agencies are preparing for additional storms.

West Africa’s rainy season typically lasts from June to September.