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Flood response: on Lala’s way to recovery

© UNICEF Mali / 2013 / Cao

By Cindy Cao

Bamako, September 4, 2013 - The torrential rains that battered the country, caused many deaths , injuries and property damage. Lala Cissé, mother of eight children, is on her way to recovery

Lala Cissé, a mother of eight children, lived with her family in a house close to the river in Bankoniflabougou I, one of the 6 districts in Bamako. "We had a small business. We had a fridge and we sold juices,"she says  sitting in front of a classroom at Babale Santana school where UNICEF provides emergency assistance.

On Wednesday, 28 August 2013, the floods in Bamako that caused the death of at least 37 people, injured many others and destroyed hundreds of homes, disrupted the peaceful life of Lala. She remembers: "I went to buy vegetables under the rain and then I started to cook. I saw water rising in the ditch, and I ran to get help. I wanted to close the gap, but it was not possible. We were quickly overrun by water."

At the time, her four youngest children were present. "I escaped with my children through the roof. There were many people in the same situation as us. My children were screaming and crying. I then found a shelter for my children, but I stayed under the rain."

Lala's husband, who was gone to the market, heard about the flooding and tried to join his family. "My husband called me. The men had to stay close to our homes to watch the few last things we had, while women and children had to go and look for a shelter."

Lala came to Babale Santana shool where more than 600 victims gathered, according to the General Directorate of Civil Protection. "I came here and registered. I got a place. We received a mattress for one person, a mat, a bucket of bleach, blankets and soap" she says, showing the kits that were provided by UNICEF.

Gradually, flood victims organized their lives on the site. Many women came to install mats in the classrooms. According to Lala, they get along well together. The first concern is about food. "The first three days, we received prepared meals but, now we get raw food and it is not easy to find ways to cook it." UNICEF provides Ready-to-use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) for the treatment of severe malnutrition of displaced children.

A few days later, Lala came back to see the ruins of her former home. "Everything  collapsed" she said. "We lost everything : wood, coal, our fridge..." The losses are not only material : "I know many people who fell ill or are injured. The walls collapsed on a man who lived in my concession, he is still alive but he was injured. One of my friends has lost her child."

Lala wants to recover from the disaster and she has hope for the future. "I thank UNICEF, but" she insists, "I 'm not used to live like this. I want to work. I want to save money to buy another fridge. After that, we will restart our small business and we will sell juice as before,” she ended.



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