Red Cross/ Red Crescent Climate Centre

The experience of West African floods 2007-2008

14/07/2009 - by West and Central Africa Zone & RC/RC Climate Centre

In early May of this year the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) of New York’s Columbia University, a IFRC partner, issued its “JAS” (July, August, September) precipitation forecast, indicating high probability of “above-normal” rainfall over West Africa. It also spoke of a “highly enhanced likelihood” of precipitation extremes centred on Senegal and Gambia.

These were not directly forecasts of floods but of heavy rain. The science of hydrology is required to relate the probabilities of one to the other. In response, the IFRC Zone for West and Central Africa held a flood preparedness meeting in Dakar from 13–15 May to explore disaster preparedness, including early warning systems, and the need for adaptation to the increasing risk of disasters due to climate change. A major outcome of this was a new blueprint, based on lessons learned from the 2007 floods, to develop contingency plans, risk maps for individual countries, an early-warning system, additional partnerships, and better coordination for preparedness and disaster mitigation. Read full document.

Read more about the Red Cross and Red Crescent's "Early Warning, Early Action".