Kenyans families seeking shelter, as their homes have just collapsed from the rains and flooding. Credit: KONATE Sosthene, Intermon Oxfam
600,000 people are thought to be affected

Oxfam responds to West Africa floods

“The situation is urgent – in the short term there could be dramatic consequences for the health of the populations from living with polluted water and household waste.”
Gérard Steehouwer
Regional Director, Oxfam International
Published: 9 September 2009

The water and sanitation expertise of Oxfam International and its partners will be central to its humanitarian operating strategy for the West African populations hit by flooding over the past week.

The situation remains worrying. 600,000 people are thought to be affected, according to the latest estimates.

Oxfam International’s teams have been working with its partners on the ground to analyze the situation since the early days of the flooding in Senegal, Burkina Faso and Niger, in particular. The situation is still difficult in these Sahel countries.

In Senegal, the needs assessment is continuing on the ground. The north, centre, south and south-east regions are affected. The suburbs of Dakar are the worst hit with 15 out of 16 district communes affected in Pikine.

Gerard Steehouwer, Oxfam International Regional Director, says: “The situation is urgent – in the short term there could be dramatic consequences for the health of the populations from living with polluted water and household waste.”

In Burkina Faso, more Oxfam experts are due to arrive in Ouagadougou within the next few days to finalise the assessments on the ground with Oxfam’s partners and enable more effective action to be taken. By the end of the week, a cargo airplane will deliver an initial batch of equipment from Spain, worth nearly 50,000 euros.

In Niger, Oxfam International has contacted its partners working at Agadez in the north. A needs assessment mission including a water and sanitation expert will set off on Wednesday to meet the various players and local authorities in Agadez. This mission will enable us to fine-tune our water and sanitation intervention in the Agadez region where 16,000 households are affected.

The needs in this northern region of Niger are virtually identical to those of Senegal and Burkina Faso: an urgent need for water purification equipment, latrines, mosquito protection kits and hygiene kits. Oxfam and its partners will also launch prevention campaigns to improve hygiene and prevent the illnesses associated with consumption of unsanitary water.

This initial phase of emergency response will be ongoing for several months.

Notes to Editors

The estimate figure of 600,000 was provided by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.