Although OFID's core activities focus on providing concessional financing in support of sustainable projects across the developing world, the institution recognizes that emergency assistance is still instrumental in helping mitigate the suffering of those affected by natural disasters. Therefore, when the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched an appeal to the donor community in September to mobilize funds to help victims of ongoing flooding in West and Central Africa, OFID swiftly responded by approving a grant of US$1 million. The IFRC subsequently divided proceeds equally among the National Red Cross Societies in five of the hardest-hit countries; namely, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal.
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.