Red Cross responds as severe flooding takes its toll in the Sahel

By Moustapha Diallo, IFRC

Severe flooding is causing chaos across several countries in the Sahel region of Africa. To date, more than 200,000 people have been affected in six countries, including Burkina Faso, Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Senegal. Buildings have collapsed, roads have been rendered impassable, and valuable farmland is submerged beneath flood water.

In Mali, at least 55 people have been killed by heavy rains that lashed almost all the neighbourhoods of the capital, Bamako. Thousands of families have been displaced after their houses collapsed in Boconi Flabougou, Korofina, Banconi Laïbougou, Sébéniko, Lafiabougou and Babiabougou.

“I have never seen such rain and flooding in my life,” said Malick Doumbia, a 52-year-old resident of Bamako. “We have lost everything.”

Volunteers at the Mali Red Cross, in collaboration with the government’s civil protection office, were immediately deployed to provide assistance to affected families with essential relief items, including mosquito nets, blankets, sleeping mats, jerry cans, hygiene kits and tents.

“Red Cross volunteers are participating in rescue operations while doing a rapid assessment of the damage caused by the floods,” said Mamadou Traoré, Secretary General of the Mali Red Cross.

Volunteers have also been mobilized in other flood-affected countries, providing much needed support to those who have had their lives washed away.

“Based on predictions of severe rainfall in West Africa, we were able to pre-position stock emergency relief items in most of the countries,” said Chiran Livera, Disaster Response Manager at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Dakar. “This has allowed us to provide immediate assistance to people.”

The IFRC continues to closely monitor the situation and will step up its efforts to respond depending on the magnitude of the flooding in each country.