Flood and cholera in Benin – a small country in substantial misery

by Judith Kühl,  2010/10/28

The rain is pouring down. Without rain jackets, umbrellas or gumboots, people are walking through flooded streets on bare feet. Two young women are using a boat to reach their house and rescue their personal belongings from it. A mother is carrying her baby through the water in a plastic bag. People are soaking wet and looking for a dry place to stay.

In their first few days in Benin, the humedica mission team was able to treat more than 700 patients. Photo: humedica/Judith Kühl

The wet season in the West African country of Benin has started four months ago. Like every year, people are struggling with the masses of water. This year, however, the country is experiencing rainfalls heavier than any during the last 50 years.

Today I visited a village near Zagnanado, about 100 kilometres north of Porto Novo. It smells mouldy. Broken jugs are lying on the ground. Deserted fire places next to collapsed clay huts and snapped palm trees are the only remaining evidence of the village having been inhabited.

It is quiet, almost eerie. Four weeks ago, the rain destroyed the homes of all the village’s inhabitants. The families have fled from the water and the mud and have not yet returned.

Now they are living in makeshift shelters next to the main road. They have taken their cooking utensils. This is their most valuable property. Food, however, is scarce. They are living on nothing but some fish from the river and fruit from the plantation next to the road. They have set up new roofs above their heads, using palm leaves and tree trunks.

As long, however, as the rain returns every other day, these roofs, too, can simply be washed away. Then the people are sitting in the humid sand, wet to their bones. It is a terrible sight.

Up to now, those people have simply been forgotten. They have been provided with clean water for only two days now. They have been lacking medical care for weeks. Children are coughing and babies crying in the crowd of people. Some of the children are running around naked.

The damage caused by the floods is obvious; and the wet season is not over yet. Photo: humedica/Judith Kühl

Their bloated bellies and thin arms and legs are clear symptoms of undernutrition and potential worm infestations; although I am not a professional medic, I can recognise this. Other diseases need to be treated. Furthermore, outbreaks of epidemics must be prevented in the refugee camp. The Mayor has asked for our help.

Up to now, our first team in Benin has been treating more than 700 patients near Cotonou. The children in particular are often in a critical state. They frequently suffer from malaria. Some of the babies are undernourished. Adults are complaining about pains in their whole bodies.

Starting with tomorrow, our team will work at the main road of the village of Zagnanado. We will not forget the people and their misery. We would like to ask you, too, not to forget the flood victims in Benin. It is a small country, but people’s misery is substantial. Thank you very much for your support.

Kind regards from Benin,

Yours Judith Kühl and the humedica team

humedica would like to ask you, dear friends and sponsors, to support our flood relief in Benin. Please help us make our mission for the flood victims a success by means of making a donation via our online form or to the account below:

      humedica e. V.
      Donation reference "Flood Benin"
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

You can also support us in a fast and direct way by means of sending a text message: send a text message containing the reference DOC to +49 81190. 4.83 euros of the total amount of 5 euros will be channelled directly into the humedica disaster relief projects.

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