Torrential floods in West Africa hurt food security

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Souloukna Mourga plodded through his flooded millet and cotton field in northern Cameroon and uprooted soggy stems that had a few bolls on them. All six hectares of mostly dead crops were under water.

The 50-year-old father of 12 is one of an estimated 4 million people, many of them small subsistence farmers, in over a dozen countries in West and Central Africa that have seen their crops decimated by unusually heavy flooding.

The floods have destroyed harvest for this season, while nearly 1 million hectares of farmland across the region remain under water, with soil nutrients being washed away and setting the scene for an even worse crop production next season.

Around Mourga’s farm in Dana village on the floodplain of the Logone River bordering Cameroon and Chad, hundreds of hectares of crops and dotted huts in hamlets remain under water.

“I have nothing left. We are facing famine. I have two wives and 12 children. The water has taken everything,” Mourga said.

Some 300km (186 miles) north of Dana on the floodplain between the Logone and Chari Rivers in Chad, it took Bernadette Handing, 37, two hours in a canoe to reach her flooded millet farm in Kournari, south of the Chadian capital.

“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 said.

Before the floods, the West and Central Africa region was already facing a bleak food security situation, said Sib Ollo of the World Food Programme.