Bolgatanga -- THE predicament of people living in the flood-hit areas of the three northern regions has worsened with the influx of black flies, the tiny insects which cause river blindness or onchocerciasis, the multi-sectoral damage-assessment team from Accra has found.
The black fly, locally called "behn" is currently common in the Upper East Region, especially in areas between the Red and White Volta Rivers along the Bolgatanga, Bawku road.
However, Dr Joseph Amankwah, the Upper East Regional Director of Health Services says the insects can no longer cause blindness, because there is a total cure for the sickness.
The second day of the assessment of the extent of devastation by the floods, took the high powered multi-sectoral team to all the eight districts of the Upper East Region.
The team, led by Mr Kwamina Bartels, Minister of the Interior, includes other government officials, representatives of United Nations Agencies, International Development partners and Non-Governmental Organisations as well as the media.
Dr Amankwah who was part of the team that assessed the Bawku West and Celensi/Nabdam districts, said the bite by the insects is so painful that pupils in class lose concentration.
Mr Roy Ayariga, the Regional Director for the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, said the influx of the black fly is preventing many people from working on their farms, adding that the situation threatens food security if not checked.
Towns such as Kusanaba, Boya, Agao Akopela, Tetako, Kokore, Gumbare, Zowera, Azonge, Zangbeyiri, Dangumbe and Binaba are the worst affected.
On the flood situation, 64 displaced persons have been settled at Tilli Area Council building while at Yarigu, 194 people are seeking shelter at the District Assembly Basic School.
The Regional Minister, Alhassan Tamari, appealed for more relief items for the affected people.
On Tuesday when the assessment team visited Tamale, it was told that in spite of the relief items dispatched to the affected areas in the Northern Region, the victims are still waiting for food.
According to victims along the White Volta, in the Central Gonja District they have not received any relief items since the disaster occurred.
To make things worse, about 339 houses have been submerged under water rendering some 645 people homeless. The worst affected villages are Donyanmu, Kpachiteve, Mpotoso and Sikape where the people have sought shelter at Makpam.
The victims appealed to the assessment team to speed up the process of ferrying relief items to them.
No deaths have been recorded in the Central Gonja District but the water level keeps on rising daily.
Alhaji Sulemana Yirimial, Deputy NADMO Co-ordinator, who led the team to west and central Gonja Districts lamented at the state of devastation caused by the floods.
At Makpan, where most of the victims had relocated, they said their immediate needs were food and shelter.
There are also no sanitation facilities and they called on the team to make provisions for that to prevent the outbreak of disease.
Two basic schools, Bunyanmu Roman Catholic and Sikape District Assembly schools are both under flood waters, and about 300 pupils have been displaced