Floods Update up to 7 April, 1998

SACB - Situation on the ground
Fortnight up to: 7 April, 1998

Number of people reported killed from end of October, 1997: 2,452
Number of people remaining at risk: approximately 1 Million
Livestock reported killed so far: more than 35,000
Food stocks destroyed: more than 60,000 hectares of crops and farmland destroyed. Famine Early Warning System (FEWS)/Somalia estimates losses of Gu' crops in traditional underground granaries due to the floods and rain water seepage at 42,300 tones. The upcoming harvest is estimated to be reduced by at least 50,500 tones from the initial projection of 95,000 tones to 44,500 tones.

Weather Forecast

For further information on the weather, please click on Current Situation on the Homepage on our website and/or proceed directly to FEWS Updates or Maps/Graphs/Photographs.

General Situation

Most areas of Somalia are finally drying up, however, patches of flood water remain in the Lower Jubba area and in other areas where flood-water has no outlet and can only recede by evaporation. In critically flood-affected areas, especially in coastal southern Somalia, people fear the devastating impact of any renewed rainfall. These areas are already saturated and still in the process of drying out. According to field reports, the Shabelle river bed is heavily silted. Without dredging, the river course is very shallow and susceptible to spilling over into adjacent fields with more rain. The same problem is likely to exist in Lower Jubba. The Shabelle and Jubba rivers are presently full. A build-up of clouds has been reported from many locations and showers were already recorded in various areas. In some areas this has meant a renewed closure of roads that had just become passable. In general, roads have been badly damaged by the floods. Water and sanitation conditions remain poor in most areas. International agencies continue the draining/pumping and cleaning of wells as well as rehabilitation of water wells and boreholes in the flood-affected areas. Chlorination and general health awareness campaigns continue throughout the flood-affected areas.


WHO reports that cases of cholera have risen to 9,078 to date with 375 deaths (case fatality rate: 4.1 %). Although the overall trend is on the decline, cases continue to be reported from Mogadishu and Merca. And still, a second peak can not be excluded. Malaria continues to be a major health problem in flood-affected areas and measles cases continue to be reported from Mogadishu, Bay region and Middle Shabelle.

Diarrhea continues to be widespread in many areas due to the consumption of contaminated water. The nutritional status of children has worsened in several areas. International agencies monitoring and assessing the situation report that an increase in the number of malnourished children has been recorded in several locations including Mogadishu (with the exception of Medina district where the number of new admissions remained stable), Balad district , Merca, Qorioley, Afgoye, Kismayo, Bulla Xawa and Belet Weyne.

Food Relief

WFP reports that from January to the end of March 1998, it supplied a total of 8,454 mt of relief food benefiting the most vulnerable people in Central and Southern Somalia . The agency says that in order to ensure that the food reaches the most vulnerable and needy people , it established 50 delivery locations in Lower and Middle Jubba, Lower and Middle Shabelle, Hiraan, Gedo, Bay and Bakool regions. The commodities were distributed by more than 22 NGOs on the ground as well as by WFP staff in close collaboration with community representatives. During March, deliveries by road increased due to the fact that many roads opened up for traffic. However, the agency anticipates that deliveries by air might have to increase once again in case renewed rainfall leads to closure of main roads.

Reports from the Field

Hagar: Hagar is reportedly no longer totally surrounded by water, but some large tract of water remains close to the town. WFP's Food Security Assessment Unit (FSAU) reports that six villages are still isolated and there is some concern over the well-being of the affected population. There is still no access between Hagar and Afmadow except via Bu'ale. American Refugee Committee (ARC) reports that the number of displaced families in the town has dropped considerably. Many families have returned to their original homes. Food availability is reportedly increasing and prices slowly going down. The sanitation conditions are said to be gradually improving and chlorination of drinking water sources has taken place.

Hoosingo: Access to Hoosingo (Badhade district) is still difficult. The road is impassable between Hoosingo and Dhobley except by foot or by donkey. Access to Afmadow via Tabta, Bilis Qoqani and Hayo remains very difficult for vehicles.

Afmadow district: Afmadow town inhabitants were able to return to the town only by late February. The overall nutritional situation improved compared to the previous months due to increased trade and continuous airdrops. The nutritional status of children is slowly getting back to normal, however, the overall food security in Afmadow (and Hagar) districts remains fragile. Purchasing power is low for a large part of the population and market food availability still scarce. The situation also remains critical for the nomadic population. Most herds suffered huge losses in the floods. In Tabta and Hayo, flood waters were still present by the end of March, according to ARC, although receding slightly. Dhobley is reportedly still in need of food in order to maintain the nutritional status of the population.

Kismayo: UNICEF reports that nutrition assistance has continued through the local Regional Health Board-managed Nutrition Centre in Kismayo. 1,658 malnourished children referred from local mother and child health (MCH) centres were provided with Supermix supplementary feeding supplies. Supplementary rations were also provided to malnourished children in other locations.

Bay Region: According to WFP, the nutritional situation is improving in Baidoa and Dinsor compared to previous months. WFP reports that food was supplied to the MCH centres through IMC in Baidoa and also to Dinsor and Qansaxdhere districts. UNICEF reports that it continued routine immunization programmes in the region and supported primary health care programmes run by the International Medical Corps (IMC) in Baidoa.

Jowhar: UNICEF reports that five wells in Jowhar district have been rehabilitated and hand-pumps fixed. Almost 4,000 villagers will benefit from this programme.

Merca: While cases of cholera have declined in Merca, the number of malnourished children admitted to the hospital increased steadily during the last months. Most of the children are from Jenale area near Merca and Qorioley district. The hospital, supported by COSV, an Italian NGO, reported that while it usually receives on average 15 children per month, the numbers had increased since December and had reached 70 for the month of March. The Qorioley mother and child health centre presently takes care of 205 severely malnourished children. Malnutrition was found to be widespread in the area and came as a result of the collapse of the food economies of Qorioley and Jenale after the flooding.

Belet Weyne: Save the Children Fund (SCF)-UK reported light showers in Belet Weyne town early last week, but no further rainfall since. The Shabelle river reportedly rose by 30 cm.The joint SCF/Oxfam water and sanitation programme continues. To date, 300 pit latrine slabs have been manufactured and delivered to beneficiaries. The construction teams involved in the pit latrine manufacture have now been deployed to work on the rehabilitation of wells. So far, 93 wells have been rehabilitated, many needing minor work such as pumping, cleaning and chlorinating. In several case, however, the wells needed more reconstruction than rehabilitation work. SCF's agriculture team says that it has nearly completed the distribution of 2,000 vegetable seed kits donated by FAO. More seeds will be supplied in near future by FAO and CINS NGO. SCF reports that harvesting of the maize and sorghum planted in December, has begun. The harvest of the maize crop has been described as fair, but the sorghum seems to be better. On the health side, both cholera treatment centres which were set up in the town, have been closed, and there are no reports of further cholera cases. Health education continues with the assistance of UNICEF. Community leaders helped in mobilising people for hygiene education.

The Somalia Inter-Agency Flood Response Operation was set up in early November 1997 to combat the flood emergency. The team includes UN agencies and NGOs who are working in close cooperation. The operation is run under the umbrella of the Somalia Aid Coordination Body and the overall management of the Office of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia.