7 Sep 2022

Acting in anticipation of severe floods in Mali

After weeks of heavy rain across much of West and Central Africa, the Mali Red Cross has activated its Early Action Protocol (EAP) for Floods. This was triggered by a rise in water levels on the Bani River at Sofara, which exceeded the orange alert level (633cm). In response, the IFRC has released 62,890 Swiss francs (64,098 US dollars / 64, 510 euros) from the anticipatory action pillar of its Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF), which will support a series of predetermined early actions.

The actions, which will be led by the Mali Red Cross, will tackle the most damaging impacts of floods: the loss of human life, the destruction of habitats and infrastructure, and the spread of water-borne diseases. They will target 1,000 vulnerable households in Sofara, in the Mopti region, which is on the banks of the Bani River. They include:

  • the distribution of prepositioned shelter items, including shelter kits and blankets
  • the distribution of shovels and sandbags to divert floodwaters
  • the distribution of water, sanitation and health items (e.g., water purification tabs, bleach) to reduce the risk of diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera
  • the evacuation of at-risk households to safe areas
  • public-awareness messages in both French and Bamana (the local language), for example via radio programmes.

The total budget for the EAP is 209,532 Swiss francs (213,540 US dollars / 214,948 euros). The IFRC released 146,641 Swiss francs (149,338 US dollars / 150,448 euros) in 2020, when the EAP was approved, for readiness and prepositioning activities. Those prepositioned items are now being put to use, thanks to the release of this second tranche of funds.

Floods are the most devastating natural disaster in Mali, leading to many deaths each year, as well as the loss of livelihoods and livestock – and unfortunately West Africa is expected to continue experiencing heavy rainfall until October. Nor is Mali the only country in the region facing this hazard; just last week, neighbouring Niger activated its own EAP for Floods due to rising water levels on the Niger River in and around Niamey. And on 27 August, the Nigeria Red Cross Society received 107,392 Swiss francs (109,300 US dollars / 110,206 euros) from the DREF to support early actions ahead of forecast floods; this followed an allocation of 138,230 Swiss francs (140,651 US dollars / 141,885 euros)  in July.

By acting early, the hope is that the Mali Red Cross can reduce the impacts on vulnerable people, resulting in fewer losses and less damage than during past floods. “The National Society [the Mali Red Cross] was well prepared, and once the trigger was met, it immediately swung into action to support the most vulnerable communities in advance of the peak of the floods,” said Thierry Balloy, head of the IFRC’s Niamey Country Cluster Delegation, which covers Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Niger.

By acting early, the hope is that these countries will experience fewer losses and less damage than during past flood events, reducing the impacts on vulnerable people.

Photo: Flooding in Mali. © Marian Bijlenga / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)