Africa: Floods

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office written question – answered on 24th September 2020.

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Photo of Lord Boateng Lord Boateng Labour

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the statement by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance on the flooding that has affected people in West and Central Africa, and (2) the impact of those floods on (a) food security, and (b) the mass displacement of peoples, in the affected regions; and what steps they are taking to address the implications of the floods for each region in which they have existing development programmes.

Photo of Baroness Sugg Baroness Sugg Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

We are concerned by the risk posed to populations in West and Central Africa where approximately 760,000 people have been affected by floods in recent weeks across Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Ghana, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Nigeria. Humanitarian partners are assessing the damage, including number of houses destroyed, people displaced and crops losses.

The UK is the largest donor to the UN Central Emergency Response which has already begun to mobilise funds in response (including a £5 million allocation in Niger).

In Niger and the Sahel the UK is working with existing partners to ensure work can continue and integrate flood response into established programmes where possible.

We are also working to reduce flooding risks through the UK funded Weather and Climate Information Services for Africa programme. This support to the work of meteorological and associated offices in West Africa helps strengthen weather forecasting and early warning, as well as longer term climate forecasts. Access to early warning is one important aspect of building resilience to floods and other climate shocks. The UK has also supported the World Bank's Adaptive Social Protection (ASP) with £50 million over five years (2015-2020) to build the capacity of Sahel countries to develop their own social protection systems to support the poorest during climate related and weather shocks, including floods.

Flooding can also increase the risk of desert locusts spreading within the area. We are taking steps to mitigate this risk by strengthening surveillance and control in the region through the Food and Agriculture Organization. We are also conscious of alternative drivers such as conflict which has created a food security situation in the Sahel which is of chronic concern.

We will continue to closely monitor the situation, including through dialogue with OCHA at regional level. Increased flooding in Africa demonstrates the need for action on climate change which HMG is driving forward through COP26 preparations.

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