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Synopsis of flood damage

OCHA map outlining impact of floods

The 2009 rainy season in West Africa, with several weeks to go, has caused extensive flooding, affecting hundreds of thousands of people and killing 160, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.  Here is a synopsis of flood impact and responses in several West African countries.

Burkina Faso

In Burkina Faso at least 100,000 people are currently displaced, over 40,000 of them sheltering at 88 sites - mostly schools - in the capital Ouagadougou and the rest living with friends and relatives, according to the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

The prime minister announced on 9 September that school will resume as scheduled on 1 October and temporary shelters will be set up for people remaining homeless.

Mahamadi Sawadogo, one of 2,000 displaced living in the Lycée Venegre in Ouagadougou, told IRIN: “The authorities must help us to find a plot of land and evacuate the schools so that our children can attend school, since October is near.”

Following a government appeal on 7 September funds are pouring into the country, according to aid agencies, including from neighbouring Côte d’Ivoire which donated US$1 million. The European Commission’s humanitarian aid department, ECHO is giving $2 million, mainly for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Food Programme to provide food, essential medicines and mosquito nets, and to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization to rehabilitate small farms that were flooded. WFP will provide emergency rations to 125,000 affected people, the agency announced on 8 September.

The IFRC is providing blankets, mosquito nets and plastic sheeting to 40,000 of the most vulnerable families.

An UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team arrived in Ouagadougou on 4 September to assess emergency needs following a request by authorities. The UN will be issuing a flash appeal in coming days.


Over 100,000 people have been affected in the outskirts of the capital Dakar and in other regions, including Mbour just south of the capital, Kaolack in the west, and the city of Saint Louis in the north, according to OCHA. Dakar suburb Pikine is the most heavily affected, with 15 out of 16 of its neighbourhoods flooded.

The government activated an emergency response plan at the end of August, calling on public, private and non-governmental actors to intervene.

The IFRC launched an appeal for $2 million and has worked with the Senegalese Red Cross to distribute mosquito nets, blankets, jerry cans, water sterilization tablets and soap to 5,000 families. Meanwhile the Economic Community of West African States - ECOWAS - on 11 September announced $167,000 for the response.

UN agencies are providing medical and non-medical materials, and help with logistics and coordination to the tune of US$540,000.


Heavy rains have hit the capital Conakry and the town of Kindia in the west, affecting 15,000 people, according to OCHA. A number of aid agencies, including the Danish and Guinean Red Cross Societies, have responded by improving access to sanitation facilities and providing relief supplies including clean water.


Floods in Agadez in the north have affected 16,000 families according to OCHA, with many displaced people sheltering in schools and other public buildings.

The government has set up a flood management committee in Agadez to help with communications; distribution of supplies; and nutrition, health and hygiene needs.

The UN Development Programme will provide $200,000 to help rebuild the town, it announced on 9 September.


Severe floods hit western Chad in August, killing several people in Mayo Kebbi’s capital Bongor, according to the IFRC. Among an estimated 175,000 affected people, 1,000 families are in need of emergency assistance, the agency estimates.


Some 3,000 people have been displaced by floods in the capital Nouakchott and in Rosso on the southern border with Senegal as of 9 September, according to the government.

“We were sinking in the water; our houses are ruined,” Embarka Mint Warzek from the Dar Naime district of Nouakchott told IRIN.

Prime Minister Moulaye Ould Mohamed Laghdaf has promised to provide clean drinking water to the displaced. WFP has provided food aid to 11,500 people in Rosso.

UNICEF is working with the national water company to build install water pumps, while the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) distributed 1,350 water containers. Both UNICEF and UNHCR have said they will provide materials to rebuild toilets.

Sierra Leone

Flooding in the capital Freetown in late August left four dead, according to the government. Director of disaster management at the Office of National Security, Mary Kamara, said the government is providing relief supplies to displaced families. The Red Cross is also providing assistance.


The Nigerian Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has said flooding in late August affected 150,000 people and displaced tens of thousands across the north. Kaduna, Gombe, Niger, Benue, Adamawa, Nassarawa, Zamfara, Sokoto and Jigawa states as well as the capital Abuja have been worst-affected.

“From the reports we have received so far floods…have submerged whole villages and washed away burial grounds”, NEMA’s Director General Muhammad Audu Bida told IRIN. He added: “The solace is that no lives have been lost.”

Heavy rains flooded the Apa government district of central Nigeria’s Benue state for the second time in 40 years, leaving thousands of people sheltering in public schools, said Bida.

Rabe Muhammad, a resident of Talata Mafara city in Sokoto state, told IRIN: “We have lost all we have…Our major problem is how to feed our families and rebuild our houses now that we have lost both our homes and our crops.”

In Adamawa state in the northeast officials are trying to control a cholera outbreak, which has so far claimed 70 lives, Aliyu Sambo, NEMA’s northeastern Nigeria coordinator told IRIN. “Our major concern is to maintain sanitation and avoid outbreak of diseases in sites where the displaced are sheltering.”


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information:

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