“The story is the same wherever we went – people have lost their homes, their crops are destroyed and they are very hungry,” Concern’s Kieran McConville said.
“They are waiting for people to help them but most of the help to date has been paltry.”
“I met a mother of four young children who is feeding her family with rotten maize she salvaged from the surrounding fields,” he said.
“Another farmer, with seven children, said we were the first assistance to arrive in his village. He told me: ‘I am very sad, but I am also angry. My family are starving, they are crying.’”
Mr McConville said he saw mile after mile of fields where the crops were flattened and destroyed. “These had been submerged by the flood waters but now the waters are beginning to recede and the crops have rotted,” he said.
Concern Worldwide will fly in emergency supplies to support 25,000 people this week. The emergency kits will include tarpaulin, blankets, sleeping mats, mosquito nets and cooking utensils.
“Access is only opening up now as the waters recede and in the next week or two a massive relief operation will get underway,” Concern Worldwide’s Head of Emergency Operations Ros O’Sullivan said.
“With 85 per cent humidity, temperatures of 30 to 35 degrees Celsius and huge amounts of water lying on the ground there is a major risk of Malaria and water-borne disease. We will be working to provide hygiene kits and water purification systems.”
As the flood waters subside, Concern Worldwide will also distribute seeds and tools to enable farmers plant a winter crop within the next month.
“This is the secondary planting season – the crops which have been destroyed were the main crop of the year. But if they miss this opportunity to plant, another much greater catastrophe will unfold as they will have no food for the rest of the year,” Mr O’Sullivan said.