Mali The floods that washed homes away

The water rose at a breakneck speed as torrential rain battered the small town of Ouroungo, 60 km from Mali’s capital, Bamako.

The floodwater forced families to abandon their homes and seek safety on higher ground. It was 3 September 2022 and 75-year-old farmer Mame Traore will never forget the day.

“It was between 7 and 10 in the morning. Rain like nothing we had ever seen before began to fall,” Mame recalls. “The water started to get into our homes. Thank God we were able to get out of our houses before they collapsed.”

In the span of just a few hours, the rain had left devastation in its wake. In Ouroungo village alone, 35 houses had collapsed, flattened as if hit by a bulldozer. In the neighbouring village of Sikouna another 40 houses collapsed.

Samba Coulibaly, 62, a farmer from Sikouna village, agreed that the amount of rain that fell was unprecedented. “It was scary!” he says. “I have never seen so much rain in the 40 years since I moved into my home in this village. The floodwater rose so high that it reached our thighs.”

To make matters worse, exactly one week later, on 10 September, another downpour came, less intense than the last, but significant enough to re-traumatise those who were still coming to terms with all they had lost.

The tragic irony of too much rain

Most of the inhabitants of Ouroungo village are farmers who rely on predictable weather patterns to make ends meet. Even the slightest of inconsistencies in weather patterns can have devastating impacts on their livelihoods. Last year, lower than average rainfall led to crop failure and the farmers prayed that this rainy season would provide sufficient rainfall for their crops.

Mame notes the irony of this year’s record rainfall with a heaviness in his voice.

“Last year, we lacked rain. And we struggled to have enough to eat. And now this year there has been so much rain that the flooding has caused a lot of damage. Our fields have been destroyed by the flooding. And this will once again make it hard for us to have enough to eat.”

According to OCHA, a total of 72,205 people across Mali have been affected by the flooding, with 10 recorded deaths and 8,238 destroyed homes.

You can help us to rebuild homes. Donate to our work today.

A rapid response

After being alerted to the devastation in Ouroungo and Sikouna villages, the Giving Hope For Them rapid response team in Mali distributed essential items to those who had lost their possessions due to the flooding. We provided food and cooking utensils in addition to mats, tarpaulin, blankets and other household items.

“These kits really helped us to cope with the situation,” said Samba after receiving the assistance.

As important as these essential items were, long term investments in tackling climate change are necessary. As world leaders and key stakeholders gather now in Egypt for COP27, more commitments need to be made to ensure that the effects of climate change are mitigated.

Today in Ouroungo the water levels have receded, but the debris of the fallen houses can still be seen all over the village. As Mame and Samba begin to rebuild their homes, they cannot help but worry that they may have to face this all over again next rainy season. Hopefully, if the right actions are taken soon enough, this won’t be the case.

Related Posts