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Freak rainstorms wreak havoc in Niger desert

By AFP 20 June 2016

Unusually heavy rains in Niger's desert north in recent days have killed thousands of goats and cattle, gutted homes and stores, and left three people dead, national television said Monday.

“Torrential rains caused severe damage and three dead in Bazagor”, a town in the northwestern province of Tchintabaradene, and destroyed 100 stores and 100 homes, said Tele Sahel.

In Ingal, near the northern city of Agadez, “85 millimetres (3 inches) of rain fell in two hours” on June 14, though yearly rainfall is rarely over 100 to 130 millimetres there.

Hundreds of people have been left homeless in the past days with more than 8,000 goats, sheep, cattle and camel killed in the area, where animal corpses are visible over 20 kilometres, television footage showed.

Sub-Saharan Niger, a vast arid nation, regularly suffers food shortages due to drought.

But early this month the UN warned of floods in 2016 affecting the livelihoods of more than 100,000 people.

Climate change has wrought havoc in Niger, bringing floods, droughts, spikes in temperature and food shortages — buffeting the lives and livelihoods of millions of the country’s farmers.

Flooding in 2012 killed more than 100 people, affected more than half a million Nigeriens and caused at least 135 million euros ($145 million) worth of damage, according to the disaster prevention office.

Floods similarly killed dozens of people and affected hundreds of thousands in 2014 and 2015.

Global warming is only worsening the problems, with the steadily encroaching desert now covering three-quarters of Niger.

hb/kc/ccr/ric

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

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