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West Africa: thousands homeless after floods

18 September 2009

A woman picks through rubbleRobert Fraser/BRCIn Senegal and Burkina Faso, more than 200,000 people are now homeless as torrential rains continue to lash down and floods destroy homes, crops and drinking water.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has launched appeals for Senegal and Burkina Faso and has sent teams to both countries to find out exactly where and what are the needs.

The British Red Cross has released £58,000 from its Disaster Fund to buy 100 rapid latrines and meet the sanitation needs of 5,000 displaced people in Burkina Faso.

Burkina Faso

In Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, the heavy rains have claimed nine lives, affected 150,000 people and left over 100,000 homeless. Neighbours Sore Rasmane and Kabore Denise were among those whose homes were completely obliterated.

“We fled our houses with our children during the night as the buildings began to collapse around us,” said Sore, while searching through the rubble in an attempt to salvage the few water-logged belongings that remain.

“I have never seen such rain and flooding in the 50 years I have lived in Ouagadougou. We have lost everything and do not know what our future will bring for us and our children.”


In Senegal, initial assessments have found serious damage in Saint Louis, Kaolack, Thies, and Dakar provinces, where 2,611 houses have collapsed, more than 400 families are displaced, and 1,051 have lost their livelihoods. In the village of Lougdemis, Rosso, northern Senegal, the houses of all 127 families have been destroyed. The Senegal Red Cross (SRC) is now providing the population with safe drinking water in this region.

The SRC is also planning to distribute relief items to 5,000 families and has already reached 800. John English, British Red Cross delegate leading the fact-finding team in Senegal, said: “Thousands of families are in a pretty desperate situation having lost their crops and remaining food stocks at harvest time.

“One of the key things, aside from the need to ensure people have adequate shelter, is to address the water and sanitation needs. So far, there are reports of around 2,000 cases of diarrhoea and more than 3,300 cases of malaria. It’s also vital that we get enough money to help people get back on their feet and recover their livelihoods.”

Disaster Fund

Since July, heavy rains and floods have been affecting 16 countries in west and central Africa. The British Red Cross has already released £25,000 from its Disaster Fund to provide relief for badly hit Sierra Leone.

Contributions to the Disaster Fund will not be used directly in response to floods in west Africa, but will be used in response to other emergencies in the future.

floods in Sierra Leone

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