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 Thursday 04 October 2007
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MALI: Souleymane Diallo, Mali: “If I spend money on rebuilding, what would we live on?”

Photo: Nicholas Reader/IRIN
Souleymane Diallo stands in what used to be his bedroom, destroyed by floods in Bla, western Mali
BLA, 1 October 2007 (IRIN) - When floods sweep through West Africa’s Sahel region, they take with them the few ties many people have to a self-sufficient life.

Souleymane Diallo, his three wives and 26 children, who live in the town of Bla in south western Mali, were hit hard when floods swept through the town in late July. They were left with nothing but piles of mud where their house once stood, the clothes they wore and a few animals.

Now Diallo must figure out how to rebuild the family's livelihood on the irregular handouts he can scrounge from his job hawking tickets and loading luggage at the bus station.

“When the rain started I was at the bus station. It rained hard, then it stopped. Then it started again ten minutes later.

"I hurried home and found everyone was asleep. As I was standing there, the water started rising outside. I shut the door, but the water soon came in.

"I woke everyone up and told them we had to go. By then the roofs and the walls were collapsing. The water inside the house kept rising until it came up to my waist and the children were swimming. It was like a dam had burst. All the rooms were destroyed.

"The neighbours were in the same situation. People were running screaming and some were falling into wells as they tried to escape. We eventually made it to the school and that’s where we stayed until we were told to leave so they could start the school year.

"I can’t start work on rebuilding the house properly now. I just send the kids over every day and they do what they can. If I spend the money on rebuilding the house, what are we going to live on? I don’t even have the money to pay for rent for somewhere for us to live – we’re squatting in disused buildings at the school.

"We lost everything that night. What the floods didn’t take, the looters did. We don’t drink clean water anymore because there are no taps in town; all the wells are spoiled and we can’t buy bottled water, so we have to drink from the wells. We know it is dangerous and makes us sick, but we have no choice.”

Click here for a story on flood damage in Mali


Theme(s): (IRIN) Children, (IRIN) Economy, (IRIN) Food Security, (IRIN) Natural Disasters


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
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This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States. Republication is subject to terms and conditions as set out in the IRIN copyright page.