For people living in Thies Nord, Senegal, the rains mean worry. This is a poor area, and the homes haven’t been built to cope with the increasing threat of floods. Aliou remembers the anxiety well:
“When we saw the rain, we were really stressed because we knew what would come after. There would be water everywhere, up to your knees. It would come inside the houses, inside the bedroom, and no one could go anywhere.”
People had no means to clear the water, and it would stay for as long as two weeks. The standing water caused serious sanitation and health problems, which had the worst impact on children.
“We had plenty of times when the kids got diarrhoea from the water, and suffered from a skin condition.”
Aliou has lived in Thies Nord all his life. This area is particularly prone to flooding, but the frequency and severity of floods here has increased dramatically, as it has across the whole of West Africa. Thirty years ago, this region experienced no more than two floods on average per year. Today, the average is more than eight floods a year.
Practical Action has been working with Aliou’s community for three years as part of the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance. We have supported people in forming flood brigades, creating early flood warning systems, and also providing training and new equipment for dealing with flood water. Aliou is taking action to build resilience and create hope:
“It is a huge relief. Before we got this training and equipment, we used to spend the whole day trying to pump out the water ourselves. Most of the people here are young so they can’t afford to spend a day getting the water out of the community. Now we can do it within minutes and people can go back to their activities.”
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