Date: Tue, 9 Oct 2018 14:48:11 +0200

Abidjan, Oct 9, 2018 (AFP) - Nearly 400 tonnes of fake medicines have been seized over two years in Ivory Coast, whose main city Abidjan is a West African haven for counterfeit drugs, the health ministry said Tuesday.   Counterfeit medicine is the scourge of Africa and the cause of around 100,000 deaths annually on the world's poorest continent, according to the World Health Organization.    "In the course of the last two years, 385 tonnes of fake medicines -- representing a financial loss of 152 million euros ($173 million) for the pharmaceutical industry -- were seized," said Able Ekissi, an inspector in the ministry.   "In Ivory Coast, 30 to 40 percent of medicines are bought off the streets. They are reputed to be cheaper and at best they are ineffective and at worst toxic, causing death," said Abderrahmane Chakibi, the managing director of French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi for sub-Saharan Africa.

The illicit sector has a turnover of at least 10 percent of the world pharmaceutical business, meaning that it earns tens of billions of dollars a year, the Switzerland-based World Economic Forum estimates, adding that the figure has nearly tripled in five years.   The WHO estimates that one out of 10 medicines in the world is fake but the figure can be as high as seven out of 10 in certain countries, especially in Africa.   The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene estimated in 2015 that 122,000 children under five died due to taking poor-quality antimalarials in sub-Saharan Africa, which, along with antibiotics as the two most in-demand, are the medicines most likely to be out-of-date or bad copies.
Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2018 16:30:08 +0200

Abidjan, June 21, 2018 (AFP) - Ivory Coast's government on Thursday called for the evacuation of all people living in flood-prone zones in Abidjan, the country's economic hub, after 18 were killed by flash floods triggered by torrential rain.   After a national security council meeting headed by President Alassane Ouattara, the government announced "the destruction of structures on storm basins and drainage and sanitation work" and "the evacuation of all people living in risk zones."

The statement, read on nationwide TV by Interior Minister Sidiki Diakite, did not say how many people would be affected by these measures or where they would be rehoused.   Floods to 2.5 metres (more than eight feet) deep raced through some areas on Tuesday as Abidjan was hit by seven hours of exceptional rain.

The affected areas ranged from the posh Cocody neighbourhood, where many embassies and the presidential palace are located, to the teeming working-class Yopougon neighbourhood.   A coastal city of five million, Abidjan suffers from some severe infrastructure problems, including drainage and sewerage.

Many homes are informal structures built in flood-prone areas, and deaths are common in the April-to-October rainy season. Twenty-eight people were killed on May 29, 1996.      In addition to the 18 deaths in Abidjan, two other people died in flooding in the provinces.   The authorities also said 1,650 troops would be deployed to help clear debris and unclog drains, and two billion CFA francs($3.4 million, three million euros) would be earmarked to help victims.   It also said that efforts would be stepped up to inform the public about flood risk, including weather alerts on the media and by mobile phone.
Date: Tue, 19 Jun 2018 21:19:25 +0200

Abidjan, June 19, 2018 (AFP) - Flooding caused by overnight torrential rain killed 18 people in Ivory Coast's economic capital Abidjan, the interior ministry said on Tuesday.    The downpour which started at 11:00 pm on Monday continued until 6:00 am on Tuesday, causing flash floods up to 2.5 metres (more than eight feet) deep.   Rescue teams saved 136 people,  two people were hospitalised, and searches were under way for other casualties, he said, adding that emergency medical centres had been set up across the seaside city.

A city of five million, Abidjan suffers from infrastructure problems and many homes are built in flood-prone areas.   The affected areas ranged from the posh Cocody neighbourhood, where many embassies and the presidential palace are located, to the teeming working-class Yopougon neighbourhood.   "Many residents are perched on the roofs of their homes," Fiacre Kili, the head of the civil protection agency said.    In Cocody and neighbouring Riviera, several homes were flooded and boundary walls toppled, with many cars washed away from driveways, an AFP correspondent said.    "I have never seen anything like this in my life," said a resident, whose car was swept 600 metres from the house.

- 'We lost everything' -
"I was sleeping upstairs. My friend who was next to me woke me up saying 'Get up, there's water'. I looked out of the window and saw cars and furniture being swept away on the streets," said Ismael Oulata, a fitness coach.   "Then the water started coming up the stairs."    Machines in the gym downstairs were out of commission and an adjoining hairdressing salon was smeared with mud.   "We lost everything," said a pizzeria owner called Sabine, who declined to give her surname.    "When we came this morning we found all the freezers toppled and all the products were spoilt. Our five delivery scooters were damaged."  Ivory Coast's rainy season extends from April to October and rainfall is more abundant on the coast.    Every year, flash flooding claims several lives.    Torrential rains on May 29, 1996 killed 28 people in Abidjan. 
Date: Thu, 26 Apr 2018 06:13:49 +0200
By Ladji Abou Sanogo in Bouake and David Esnault in Abidjan

Bouake, Ivory Coast, April 26, 2018 (AFP) - Earlier this year, Cape Town grabbed the world's headlines as it careened towards a water Armageddon.   Crippled by a three-year-long drought, the South African city braced for a complete shutdown of domestic water supplies.   In the event, Cape Town dodged the immediate bullet. But thousands of kilometres (miles) away, another African city has had far less luck -- and much less attention for its ordeal.   "We haven't had a drop from our taps for three weeks," said a resident of Bouake, Ivory Coast's second largest city, while she awaited her turn to draw water from from a well.   "The situation is catastrophic," said an employee of the state-run water distribution company, Sodeci, who asked not to be named.

Located in grassy savanna around 400 kilometres (250 miles) from the Ivorian economic capital of Abidjan, Bouake is a city of more than half million souls, with a million more in surrounding territory.   The area has been hit by a double whammy. The dammed lake that supplies 70 percent of the city's water has run dry.

One factor is an unprecedented drought that has gripped the region -- a phenomenon in line with expert warnings about climate change.   But another, says the territory's director for water affairs, Seydou Coulibaly, is the impact of unregulated sand quarrying, which has altered the course of waterways feeding the reservoir.   "We are struggling to get clean water for drinking and cooking," computer technician Eliezer Konan told AFP. "Washing has become difficult. It's a real ordeal."

In a bid to bring some relief, the city has begun drilling wells to obtain fresh water.   "We have finished a first operation and we'll be moving on to the second site in two to three hours," Hassane Cousteau Cissoko, director of the drilling firm Foraci, said last Thursday in the Houphouetville district.   In all, 10 wells will be linked by pipes to a Sodeci water tower, which will then be able to distribute two million litres (more than half a million gallons) of water per day.   This will "relieve the population" but is far from enough to replace the usual supply from the Loka dam, Cissoko said.

- 'Praying to God' -
For now, Bouake hospital is being supplied by tanker trucks, along with the city's two prisons and the university campuses.   Heavy rain fell one night last week, to the joy of many.   "We collected lots of water that night. The heavy rain allowed us to fill all our receptacles," said Awa Coulibaly in the Belle Ville 1 district. "But once we've used up this hoard, what's going to happen then? We should go on praying to God for rain every day."   In the Sokoura district, the owner of a car wash made the most of the downpour, selling jerrycans of 20 litres of water for 500 CFA francs (0.76 euro or $0.93) apiece. He was swiftly overwhelmed.

No rain has fallen since, but in any event rainwater and tanks "are insufficient", said another resident, Mariam Konate. "The government must deal with this problem head on."    Some people, however, long ago started to take precautionary measures. Aramata Toure, who sells vegetables in Dar-Es-Salam 1 district, has dug her own water supply.   "Around here, it's the well water that we use, along with our neighbours," she said.   But that is not a long-term solution for everybody. "Even the wells start to dry up when lots of people rush for water," said Amoin Konan of the Ahougnanssou district.
Date: Wed, 7 Mar 2018 16:17:16 +0100

Abidjan, March 7, 2018 (AFP) - Hundreds of small undertaker firms in Ivory Coast went on strike on Wednesday over what they described as abusive practices by the country's dominant funeral company.   Representatives staged a rally outside the morgue of the University Hospital Centre in Abidjan's Yopougon district in protest at their rival, Ivosep.   They brandished placards reading "Enough is Enough," "Ivosep, the morgues and cemeteries do not belong to you" and "no to scams."

Boniface Kouame kra, president of the National Association of Ivory Coast Undertakers (Synapofu-CI), said "211 undertakers are on strike" over business practices by the industry's biggest company, Ivosep.   Ivosep dominates Ivory Coast's funeral industry, a legacy from French colonial times. The market segment left for small undertakers is in making coffins and transporting bodies.

"Ivosep wants to block us from making coffins," he said. "Ivosep also wants to stop us from selling coffins in Abidjan and the major cities."   Synapofu-CI's members on Wednesday closed coffin-making shops in protest and "from Thursday, will also refuse to pick up bodies or carry out burials," he said.   Ivosep declined to comment on "accusations made by our competitors" in response to a request from AFP.
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