Djibouti Flash Update #1 - Humanitarian impact of flooding | 24 November 2019


1. Situation Overview

Since 21 November, Djibouti has experienced heavy rains which triggered flash floods across the country.

In Djibouti city alone, initial estimates indicate that over 30,000-40,000 families (150,000-250,000 people) have been somewhat affected by the floods, and 9 people (7 children) have reportedly been killed. Reports indicate that between 21 and 24 November, almost 300mm of rain were recorded in Djibouti city alone, or over three times the annual average. Dwellings, shops, schools and infrastructure have been damaged. In some neighborhoods, access to electricity was also interrupted.

In other areas of the country, damages to roads and flash floods have affected access to several communities, and information available to date indicate that at least 300 families are now in need of urgent humanitarian assistance in Tadjourah region alone. The recently inaugurated Tadjourah-Balho road, and road between Djibouti and Tadjourah suffered severe damages. A bridge in Arta area (PK53) is in danger of collapsing.

2. Humanitarian needs

Additional rains are forecasted in the coming days, and this will surely further complicate the humanitarian situation. Initial emergency requirements, according to the Government, are large capacity motor pumps for water evacuation (at least 20 motor pumps 100m3/h); sludge disposal systems; medical and hygiene kits; food and non-food items, water purification systems and tents. A multi-sector interagency emergency assessment is being launched, under Government leadership (Ministry of Interior and Executive Secretariat for Disaster Management – SEGRC). OCHA is deploying expertise to support the assessment.

The presence of stagnant water will also likely trigger water-borne diseases and respiratory diseases outbreaks, including Acute Watery Diarrhea (AWD) and vector-borne diseases (malaria, and a possible spread of the chikungunya virus present in the region). The Minister of Health has requested WHO's support to provide medical kits to health workers in the field, among others.

UN agencies are deploying existing stocks and seeking additional funding for the response.

3. Humanitarian response

The government activated the emergency plan (ORSEC) and has requested support to international partners as the local capacities to respond to the crisis are insufficient. The Government has initiated a solid coordination system, with partners participation. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Interior called a meeting to seek partners’ support. The Government has deployed internal resources and opened 15 support centers for the victims (schools and Community Development Centers) which are now hosting the most vulnerable, particularly women, children and elderly. The civil protection, Water and Sanitation Department (ONEAD), Djibouti Mayor Office, Djibouti Prefecture and the armed forces have immediately deployed to pump the water out of the flooded areas. However, as the rains continue, more such efforts are required to allow the people to go back home. The Ministry of Social Affaires distributed some 3,500 meals a day to the evacuees, with the Djibouti Mayor’s Office. The Government has also activated a toll-free number (1516) for the victims to report problems and seek assistance.

The United Nations Country Team is supporting the government in the response. WFP has delivered food for 2,000 children to cover needs for one week, as well as household kitchen sets for meal preparation. WFP is ready to carry out cash distribution should the assessment indicate the need for this activity. WHO has provided 50 emergency kits for 50,000 people to cover a period of 3 months, ten pumps and drinking water for 10,000 people. UNICEF has delivered 1,000 hygiene kits and is procuring 25 pumps and 900 additional hygiene kits which will be delivered on 24 November. It also has initiated the process of purchasing additional pumps. UNHCR provided 200 fire-resistant tents (5 people per tents); 1,500 individual mats; 500 jerry cans. UNDP delivered 3,000 blankets. IOM deployed a technician to repair the six motor pumps declared broken by the Civil Protection. To date, 5 motor pumps have been repaired and the technician is still at the disposal of the Civil Protection. IOM will provide 500 blankets, cooking utensils for 100 families.

The Intergovernmental Authority on development (IGAD) has pledged 50,000 US dollars towards the relief efforts. The European Union has triggered a request for satellite imagery which is being acquired.

Foreign armed forces based in Djibouti have also been supporting the response. The French armed forces deployed two heavy duty motor pumps, that were put at the disposal of the Minister of Interior (MoI). They also made reconnaissance flights from Djibouti city to Arta plage, to produce areal imagery of the floods. The Chinese armed forces provided one motor pump to MoI and are ready to provide further technical support.