COTONOU, July 7 (Reuters) - Benin has declared a state of emergency and called for international humanitarian aid after floods hit the south of the West African country.
The government estimates that some 2,000 families have already been displaced by flooding caused by heavy rains and it appealed late on Monday for immediate help to prevent the imminent spread of epidemics.
The West African region has experienced heavy seasonal flooding in the past few years and about 200,000 people were displaced when their houses were destroyed by similar floods in Benin last year.
"There is urgent need of food, potable water, essential drugs, blankets and treated bed nets," Interior Minister Armand Zinzindohoue said after visiting neighbourhoods in the main city of Cotonou that were hit by the floods.
Government officials have warned that the situation may worsen in coming days as the rainy season continues.
Experts say countries on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea including Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria and Togo are becoming more prone to floods.
Forecasts by the African Centre of Meteorological Application for Development for July to September 2009, suggest a high probability of rainfall higher than normal in these countries.
In June, at least 19 people were killed by mudslides and flooding following heavy rains in Abidjan, the economic capital of Ivory Coast.
Global aid agency Oxfam warned this week that poor communities across Africa, Asia and Latin America were being hit hard by effects of global warming, with rainfall becoming shorter and more erratic in many places. (Reporting by Samuel Elijah; Editing by George Fominyen)