Anticipatory action helps flood-affected communities in Cameroon’s Far North
24 July 2023
Early warning, anticipatory action and rapid response help villagers bounce back from floods
Every year, the Far North region of Cameroon is the setting of devastating floods that leave thousands homeless. In the department of Logone-et-Chari, the localities of Blangoua and Makary are among the most affected areas. Torrential rains and rising waters from the Logone, Chari, El beid, Taf Taf and Serbowel rivers destroy homes and crops, jeopardizing people's livelihoods and food security.
Since 2021, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been improving the anticipatory action and emergency response system in Cameroon, analysing the food and nutrition security impacts of humanitarian crises. Funded by the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), this project helps governments and communities better prepare, anticipate, analyse and make decisions ahead of a crisis.
In October 2022, FAO’s early warning system showed a high risk of flooding in the Far North region. The project activated the distribution of assistance through four pre-positioned contingency stock warehouses filled with food, tools and other essential items, in each community (Blangoua, Makary, Koza and Mora). FAO also provided 6 000 bags that the communities filled with sand to make protective dykes ahead of the flooding.
The project also helped establish different community preparation and response bodies. These groups work directly with the people at risk, reporting on relaying information on potential crises. Ahead of the floods, these committees helped the communities organize the filling of sandbags and constructing the dykes.
The anticipatory actions proved successful in mitigating a lot of the flood’s impacts. However, when the Logone River rose due to excessive rains, the waters broke through the protective dykes in some areas. Saleh Youssouf, his wife and eight children were among the families forced to abandon their homes and crops, which promised good harvests. When the floods engulfed Saleh’s home and farm, his family had no choice but to find refuge on higher ground in Kinabari.
Saleh recounts with great emotion that these violent rains destroyed everything they had built. "Our huts collapsed before our eyes and our belongings were washed away by the waters," he says.
Over the course of the year, the damage caused by heavy rains and overflowing rivers ravaged a total of 48 464 hectares of fields and 41 278 homes in the Far North region, seriously impacting the living conditions of households who were left to fend for themselves. Like Saleh, 313 200 people were affected by flooding, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
UN entities involved in this initiative
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations