In Benin, massive flooding has impacted over 680,000 people. The World Food Programme (WFP) is coming to the aid of flood victims. One of them, Josaphat Yêhouéssi, described the devastation saying, “What you see here is suffering.”
Yêhouéssi lost everything he owned in the flooding. His home is gone. His fields are gone. Everything happened in a relative instant. At a roadside tent, he told WFP, “I have six children and I have nothing to give them.”
Unseasonably heavy rains began to strike Benin in the middle of September. According to the World Food Programme, “More than 105,000 people have lost their homes. Schools, hospitals and infrastructure have been severely damaged, with 128,000 hectares of farmland ruined, and 12,000 metric tons of food stocks lost.”
WFP is providing food to 50,000 flood victims and is scaling up to help more people. This includes an effort to prevent dangerous malnutrition from taking hold in children under five, where the harmful effects can be permanent. WFP is providing corn-soya blend to about 9,000 children under five years of age.
The long-term needs in Benin will be staggering. There is so much to rebuild, and farmland to recover. WFP is working on plans for going about this recovery and reconstruction effort.
It’s critical to note that Benin is a country with a high rate of poverty and malnutrition. The floods have added another stress to a country where many people already have difficulty accessing basic foods. According to WFP, “37 percent of children under five are stunted and more than 67,000 children suffer from acute malnutrition.”
The flooding makes the existing malnutrition crisis for the nation’s children even more dangerous. It will be vital for WFP and other aid agencies to maintain food assistance, including Food for Work and school feeding, over these coming months. Recovery will be a difficult road.
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