In some areas of Central and West Africa, floods have ruined this season’s harvest and inundated farmland.
According to a recent U.N. World Food Program situation assessment, 5 million people have been affected this year by above-average rainfall and destructive flooding in 19 countries in Central and West Africa.
In the northern Cameroon region of his millet and cotton field, Souloukna Mourga laboriously uprooted damp stems with a fewbolls on them. Six hectares of crops, mainly destroyed, were submerged in water.
The 50-year-old father of 12 is among the estimated 4 million people in more than a dozen countries in Central and West Africa who have had their crops completely destroyed by unusually heavy flooding. Many of them are small subsistence farmers.
The flooding has ruined the season’s crop, and roughly 1 million hectares of farmland in the area are still underwater. The nutrients in the soil are being washed away, which will lead to even lower agricultural production the next year.
The government of Chad announced a state of emergency this week after flooding there impacted over 1 million people.
Hundreds of hectares of crops and scattered cottages in hamlets remain submerged around Mourga’s farm in Dana village, which is located on the floodplain of the Logone River and borders Cameroon and Chad.
“I have nothing left. We are facing famine. I have two wives and 12 children. The water has taken everything.”Mourga told.
The 37-year-old Bernadette Handing travelled two hours in a canoe to get to her flooded millet farm in Kournari, which is south of the Chadian capital, around 300 kilometres (186 miles) north of Dana on a floodplain between the Logone and Chari Rivers.
“What I was able to save from the farm cannot support our family for a month. What is certain, we will die of hunger in winter.”she told
According to Sib Ollo of the World Food Programme, the West and Central African area was already dealing with a dire food security issue before the floods.
As per a report released in April by international aid organisations, West Africa was already experiencing its greatest food shortage in 10 years with more over 27 million people going hungry even well before floods and Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Crop output was expected to be low due to last year’s protracted drought, the Sahel region’s conflict that has forced nearly 8 million people—the majority of them farmers—from their homes, the pandemic that disrupted farming, and the fallout from the Ukraine crisis that reduced fertiliser supplies to the area.
“It is an unprecedented situation…This is a perfect storm of factors all playing and leading us towards a catastrophe, a major crisis.”Ollo said.
According to Kouacou Dominique Koffy, chief of the West Africa emergency and resilience team for the Food and Agriculture Organization, the number of people in the area who experienced food insecurity and needed assistance was over 40 million before the floods.
It will take time for them to return and for the water to recede before they can resume farming, according to Koffy, who estimated that 80% of those who had lately been displaced were agro-pastoral farmers.
According to Sadiya Umar Farouq, minister of humanitarian affairs and disaster management, more than 570,000 hectares of agriculture have been devastated in Nigeria as a result of floods.
Crops like rice, maize, and minor grains are lost in the northeastern and middle belt areas, which are where the majority of Nigeria’s food is cultivated.
Preliminary indications indicated that up to 30% of the maize crop in the two regions may have been lost to flooding, according to Edwin Chigozie Uche, president of Nigeria’s Maize Growers and Processors Association, who warned of potential food shortages.
“We are very worried about farming next year due to the devastating floods. The possibility of not being able to farm is very high, because the topmost layer of the soil, which consists of high nutrients has bthe een washed away, leaving the soil dead”.Goni Alhaji Adam, chairman of Associations of Sorghum Producers
Many of them are small-scale farmers who are unable to pay for soil fertility testing and other farm management techniques and will be unable to produce in the coming year without assistance. However, even if they do receive assistance, they worry that it may not be enough.