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Risk of disease after Lagos deluge - report

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Wed, 13 Jul 2011 17:16 GMT
Author: George Fominyen
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DAKAR (AlertNet) - There is a risk of an outbreak of water-borne diseases in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos after torrential rainfall led to flooding that may have contaminated drinking water sources in many of the city's neighbourhoods, the Nigerian Tribune reported on Wednesday.

The floods in recent days have killed between 10 and 25 people, according to different reports, and have grounded activity, destroyed buildings, burst sewage canals and overrun wells that people used for drinking water.

The paper said inhabitants in some of the worst hit areas were still fetching water from the wells, which had been submerged by the flood and water from a nearby canal.

“We never prepared for this disaster," a resident, named by the newspaper as Joyce, said.  "So we have no choice but to make do with what we have. For instance, where we do we go now to fetch water?" she said.

Nigeria's meteorological agency has warned that more heavy rainfall could be expected between now and the end of the rainy season in October.

In February the agency predicted abundant rainfall that should help farmers obtain a bumper harvests but also warned that the rainfall would lead to hazards including water-borne diseases like cholera.

“We might also experience a little dry season in this month of July, but because of climate change we might get it earlier or later in the month," Abayomi Oyegoke, the chief meteorologist of the Central Forecast Office of Nigeria Meteorological Agency said in Business Day newspaper.

He urged the country's ministry of the environment and the national emergency relief agency (NEMA) to ensure that good drainage systems are constructed across the West African nation to avoid diseases linked to poor hygiene and sanitation conditions.

Each year, flood waters in West and Central Africa uproot hundreds of thousands of people from their homes and destroy infrastructure such as roads, bridges and buildings, turning the March-to-October rainy season into annual curse.

Experts say poor town-planning and the absence of effective drainage systems in many of the region's over-crowded cities stokes the devastation caused by natural hazards. 

In 2010, floods in West and Central Africa killed nearly 400 people and disrupted the livelihoods of about 1.8 million, the United Nations said.

(Editing by Rebekah Curtis)

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