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Monday, 10 September, 2001, 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK
Is Africa ill-prepared for the rainy season?
It's been another disastrous rainy season in Africa.

There's been flooding all over the continent. From Ethiopia to South Africa, from Malawi to Nigeria, rivers have broken their banks and thousands have been made homeless.

This week the Nigerian city of Kano has been under water and more than 40 people are reported to have died.

Is Africa ill-prepared for the annual rains, or is there nothing to be done to combat the forces of nature?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

We need to get expertise on how to conserve scarce water resources. We do not need any short-term help like food. Help us build dams.
Daniel Makonnen, Ethiopia

Ethiopia is dealing not only with floods but also with famine. The increment of annual rainfall is a guarantee of having crops for the year to come. However, the uncontrollable flood devastates farmlands, homes, bridges and major roads. It has major impact on the country's food supply. On the other hand, if the country doesn't get enough amount of rainfall, it is obvious the next thing is famine. Therefore, in Ethiopia the preparation should not be only to avoid flooding but also to preserve the annual rainfall by constructing big dams, probably like the Egyptian ones. Nevertheless, I am not sure if this is the case for each and every African country, but for sure it is not something we need to prove in labs as long as it saves people's life from the danger of flood and famine.
Shimels Tsegaye, Ethiopia

This could be achieved through proper planning and education in order to combat the forces of nature

Sedinam Akepdonu, Ghana
African governments are fond of paying lip service to very serious issues that affect the socio-economic beings of its societies. Much as natural causes cannot be predicted, enough measures could be taken to control the extent of damage these natural disasters cause. This could be achieved through proper planning and education in order combat the forces of nature.
Sedinam Akepdonu, Ghana

Africa is not alone in this flood disaster. We have to accept it that no technology can save us from the Creator's design. He takes care of the world in His ways.
Chuma Anierobi, Montreal, Canada

African leaders along with their ministers should take a serious look over the flood issue, for the problem is no longer a play, but reality. Although nature plays its part, let us take some extra precautions to save lives.
Abdul Ahmad, US/Ghanaian student

It is a fact that as human beings, we have certain limitations. For instance, at times, we can't predict natural calamities - flooding, earthquakes etc. We, however, know that such things happen. African governments, therefore, ought to be ready at all times. This can be achieved through good planning, broad enough to take care of such unforeseen phenomena like flooding. There should be well-trained and equipped personnel who can respond swiftly and efficiently to natural disasters. The public must also be sensitised on how to respond to such phenomenon.
Alphonse Otieno, Kenyan in USA

We must find a way to turn the flooding "curse" into an economic blessing. Let us create dams for irrigation and hydroelectric power purposes.
George Mutua, Kenya

Proper planing would conserve floods for drought years

Seifu Kebede, Ethiopia/France
In Ethiopia and many parts of Africa, flooding has been a common problem each rainy season and will continue to be damaging unless proper measures are taken. It sounds paradoxical to talk about flooding and drought in the same region at the same time. Proper planing would conserve floods for drought years. Our groundwater aquifers would also be replenished during the heavy rainfall events. So let us not blame nature.
Seifu Kebede, Ethiopia/France

Years ago who would have imagined that countries like Ethiopia, Somalia and the Sudan (southern) would one day have floods? For a long time these parts of Africa had witnessed drought disease and death. The only preparation the average farmer in sub-Saharan Africa did in the last decade was against sub-drought and drought conditions. If nature momentarily changes course from no rain to surplus rain who can prepare for that? With time the inhabitants of the regions most affected by the floods will learn to adapt and find ways to prevent destruction to lives and property.
Ousman Fatty, Sweden

Flooding is a global problem. In recent times America has also faced this and I'm sure that Europe and other continents of the world will follow. However, the only difference between Africa and the Western world in terms of floods is that while the continent is incapable of managing the crisis, the western world can easily cope and provide the necessary aids needed whenever there is flooding.
Tope Idowu, Nigerian/ USA

Africa is definitely ill-prepared for the annual rains. Many countries on the continent, including my own, lack proper drainage systems. Cities, towns and villages are laid out without taking this into consideration. Until we can begin to do proper urban planning Africa will definitely continue to suffer from flooding.
Musu Stewart, Liberia

Nobody can predict nature's wrath

Clement T. Chiwaya, Malawian in USA
Nobody can predict nature's wrath. We have seen floods in Europe and America. What most African states lack is proper response and how to deal with the effects brought by nature's problems. Malawi had to export maize last year and now we have to import it. Poor planning on disaster management is what we lack in Africa
Clement T. Chiwaya, Malawian in USA

Africa has been spared from all kinds of nature's problems for the most part of the 20th century. There is nothing African countries can do themselves to help themselves but to pray and wait the developed world to send aid.
A Aden, USA/ Somali/ Jamaican

Yes, Africa should prepare for worse flooding. African countries should plan and implement a flood commission ahead of time so that lives can be saved.
David Woja, Sudan

Floods are natural calamities and no one can be blamed. Maybe what governments could do is to train their citizens living in flood-prone areas on being prepared and equipping them with first aid skills.
Lilian Kimeto, Kenya

See also:

26 Aug 01 | Africa
Report on Sudanese flood damage
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