Suriname – Ongoing Floods Threaten Health and Food Security

Ongoing floods in Suriname are causing concerns about the health and food security in communities in 7 districts of the country.

Floods in Suriname, June 2022. Photo: CDEMA

As reported on 01 June, flooding has affected parts of Brokopondo and Marowijn districts since earlier this year. In April, the Red Cross reported 15,000 people affected and 2,000 displaced by floods across the two districts. Some areas were under 4 to 6 metres of water, the Red Cross said. Flooding was a result of long-term rainfall and increased levels of the Suriname River, combined with dam releases from the Afobaka Dam near Brokopondo.

Flooding has continued since then and in a recent report the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) said the Districts of Brokopondo, Sipaliwini, Marowijne, Para, Saramacca, Coronie and Nickerie have all been severely impacted, with many areas still flooded and more heavy rain likely.

According to Suriname’s National Coordination Centre for Disaster Management (NCCR) levels of the Afobaka Dam are not likely to fall significantly any time soon, and there may be a need to continue to discharge water over the coming period.

CDEMA reported many of the roads used to access the affected villages to provide help to citizens have been damaged by heavy floods. Access to the southern part of Suriname can now only be gained by aircraft, helicopters or boats to bring relief to residents of the areas. Children are missing education as schools remain inaccessible.

Electrical and water hygiene purification installations built close to the river are now under water and severely damaged. This has posed a challenge for the country to provide the citizens with clean water for drinking and hygiene purposes, CDEMA said. There is also a concern with wastewater management as many persons are engaging in improper waste disposal practices which have the potential to create health problems.

There has been a significant increase in the mosquito population across villages in the Interior which has raised concern about the potential for illness among citizens.

Food security is being threatened as many of the agricultural areas used for planting crops and rearing animals are now under water. Farms are inundated and crops are submerged under water resulting in crop losses.

Flooding is also affecting communities in neighbouring Guyana and French Guiana, as well as parts of Amazonas and Roraima in Brazil.