Migrant children whose families set up home in riverbeds are among those worst affected by floods in Senegal, reports Plan International.
The shacks sprang-up to house thousands seeking work in the country\’s major cities of Dakar and St Louis after 30 years of drought.
But heavy rains since August have swamped homes, damaged schools and raised fears of a major disease outbreak warns the children\’s charity.
\”Low-income families from rural areas moved to Dakar in search of work and established their homes in these areas, unaware of their potential for flooding,\” says Plan\’s country director in Senegal, Mie Takaki.
\”The underground water levels are very high which means the ground cannot absorb the volume of rainfall and the water sits on the surface for a long time.\”
Conditions are worsened still as some of these districts are unofficially occupied and so have no adequate sanitation.
A rapid assessment of conditions in St Louis found that more than 1,000 children are at risk of respiratory infections and skin diseases.
Children\’s health is now a top priority with reports of people emptying flooded latrines into the streets, with numbers of mosquitoes, cockroaches and rats rising.
\”Families report an increase in nightmares among children and fear of insects, rats and frogs in flooded homes,\” says Ms Takaki, launching a US$420,000 appeal.
Plan\’s work in Dakar includes pumping water, reinforcing flood defences and renovating and disinfecting damaged schools.
And in St Louis, work will include distributing 10,000 mosquito nets and restocking health clinics with medicines.
Ahead of the UN\’s International Day for Disaster Reduction Day on October 13, the charity will be holding preparedness training for children and their families.
\”This will include raising awareness on diseases relating to floods, such as cholera and malaria, as well as teaching elaborate action plans for disasters,\” says Ms Takaki.