Samle, 19 June 2023 - Finding peace and closure has not been easy for Achta.
Sitting on a raffia mat in her shelter, the mother of four remembers the day tragedy struck her village, the day she became homeless.
“I was alone at home when the waters came,” she recounts.
That morning, her husband had left early to go to the local market. “All our crops were ripe and we were preparing to harvest the fields but everything was destroyed.”
In late 2022, devastating floods swept through Chad, destroying hectares of crops and agricultural land and displacing thousands of people. According to the UN, as many as 1.3 million people were affected by last year’s floods across 18 of the country’s 23 provinces.
In the Lac province in the West of Chad, the flooding led to a dramatic rise in the levels of Lake Chad which dominates the province’s geography, submerging some of its islets and inundating shoreside villages like Abouroum, where Achta lived.
Mbande Bolirom, another villager from Abourom, was also home when the waters took over the village.
“All the villagers fled,” she says. “We took what we could, put it on the back of our donkeys, and left.”
Homeless and displaced, the residents of Abourom settled in Samle, an informal site that had already been hosting internally displaced persons (IDPs) who fled insecurity.
According to locals, floods of such a scale had not been witnessed in the province in at least 40 years. The sudden and dramatic flooding complicated a precarious humanitarian situation in the Lac province where more than 255 000 people had already been displaced in 245 localities due to insecurity.
“Shelter is one of the essential needs displaced persons express when we conduct assessments,” says Tamia Ngodji, an IOM Shelter Expert. “Most have fled with few belongings and must rely on the kindness of their hosts to obtain cloth and materials to build makeshift shelters to shield themselves,” he adds.
In Samle, IOM built 50 transitional shelters made of reinforced straw walls and corrugated iron sheet roofs to provide accommodation to families displaced by the floods. These shelters are part of IOM’s strategy to help internally displaced persons find permanent accommodation.
“Transitional shelters are designed in a way that they can either be upgraded into part of a larger and more permanent home, or reused for another purpose, thus offering displaced persons a safe, secure and durable accommodation,” explains IOM’s Tamia Ngodji.
The corrugated iron sheeting on the roof provides optimal protection from further hazards while the design of the shelter, which can include two separate rooms, offers maximum flexibility for IDPs in their process towards recovery. Moreover, most of the materials used for the shelters are sourced locally, thereby contributing to the local economy, and empowering both displaced and host communities.
Today, Achta and Mbande feel safe in their new shelters and the community they now call home.
“When the floods came, we felt hopeless and resigned ourselves to God’s will. But today, we are hopeful for a better future here,” says Mbande.
In Chad’s Lac province, IOM is one of the leading organizations providing shelter solutions for internally displaced persons. In 2022, IOM partnered with the USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance to build transitional shelters for 210 families displaced by floods in three sites including Samle, where Achta and Mbande live.
This story was written by François-Xavier Ada-Affana, IOM Chad’s Communication Officer.