#Article (Archive)

Beyond the Flood Disaster

Sep 15, 2009, 5:30 AM

The rainy season is proving to be a terrible time for The Gambia. There is hardly a rainy season that is not accompanied by one form of disaster or another.

Homes are destroyed, valuables are either damaged or lost, and people are rendered homeless. As far as we can tell, going by the footages shown almost daily on GRTS, this year's rainy has been a nightmare for most people in the country.

In previous years, the Upper River Region used to be worst hit. But it looks as if the Kombos have had the worst of it this time around. A fact-finding mission carried out by the Mayor of the Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC) Yankuba Colley together with the chairperson of the KMC Disaster Management Committee Musa Mendy, has revealed a lot of chilling statistics about the extent of the damage caused so far by this year's flood.

In six communities visited by the team, 1101 houses were affected, together with 2724 families and about 525 made homeless. Specifically, in Abuko, a total of 42 houses and 92 people were affected, besides 195 families who were made homeless. In Bakau Farokono, a large number of people and houses were affected, including 167 houses and 345 people. Further, 20 people were made homeless. In Ebo Town, 213 houses affected, 454 people affected and 69 made homeless.

According to the statistics in Kotu Quarry, 431 houses and 965 people were affected, while 210 were rendered homeless. The figure is relatively small in London Corner where 54 houses and 49 people were affected. But in New Jeshwang, the damage is relatively extensive with 194 houses and 816 people affected in addition to 29 made homeless.

This annual disaster only serves to deepen poverty in society, as many communities lose their sources of income and have their farmlands ruined.

There is therefore an urgent need for a change of approach to the perennial flood disaster. If prevention is better than cure, then we have to adopt a proactive strategy. Under this mechanism, we have to plan ahead with the facts available to us. In the dry season, planned and sustained efforts should be made to work on the affected communities.

The KMC in particular as well as the other divisional authorities should work closely with the Disaster Management Committee to figure out a lasting solution to this yearly nightmare.

This is a national assignment that should be given all the attention and resources it deserves. 

"To understand God's thoughts we must study statistics, for these are the measure of his purpose".

Florence Nightingale