Since the onset of the rainy season in June, 16 countries in West and Central Africa have been inundated by torrential rains that have caused massive flooding. While the total number of fatalities is relatively low, at least 600,000 people have been affected since the spate of floods began, and the long-term impact on already-vulnerable populations has yet to be seen. To date, a vast amount of infrastructure and homes have been damaged or destroyed and crops and livestock swept away, jeopardizing food security and livelihoods for thousands of agricultural communities.
The incidence of flooding is not a new phenomenon in the West and Central African region, which is inhabited by some 275 million people. With much of the territory situated in low-lying areas that are, at most, 300 m above sea level, and the majority of rainfall occurring from May/June until the end of September, the natural attributes of the region render it susceptible to severe flooding.