OCHA Somalia Flash Update #1 - Humanitarian impact of heavy rains | 22 April 2018
The Gu rains started the first week of March across the country, with consistent, heavy rains continuing in flood prone areas of southern and central regions throughout April.
By mid-April, the Juba and Shabelle basins in Somalia and in the Ethiopian highlands continued to receive moderate to heavy rains, according to FAO-managed Somalia Water and Land Information Management unit (SWALIM). Following heavy rains, which caused a spike of several meters in river levels in the course of a few days in mid-April, flash and river floods have been reported in many locations within the two basins leading to displacement and destruction of property and, inundation of croplands and displacement settlements.
Middle and Lower Juba regions received the highest amounts of rainfall of more than 100mm in mid-April alone and more rains are expected in the coming weeks. Following the considerable rains, water levels along the Juba and Shabelle rivers continued to rise reaching the high flood risk levels in the upper and mid sections of the two rivers.
SWALIM projects that given the rainfall forecast and the high river levels, there is a high risk of flooding in the middle and lower reaches of the Juba and Shabelle rivers with some sections already having experienced overbank river flow due to weak river embankments and open river breakages. Flash floods in built up and low lying areas within the basins are already being reported.
Meanwhile, the unusual early March rains that covered most parts of the country have encouraged many farmers to start early planting of crops. The continued rise of the Shabelle and Juba rivers in March and April will enhance opportunities for crop cultivation in the river basins where crop land has not been inundated, especially in riverine area of Hiraan, Middle Shabelle and parts of Lower Shabelle including Afgooye and Marka. Opportunistic livestock migration to areas where pasture is better was observed in the areas that received early rains in March.
Humanitarian impact and needs
Unlike in 2017 when the rains were poor, the above average Gu rains in April this year are already worsening conditions in overcrowded Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) settlements and displacing more people along riverine areas due to flooding. The IDPs, a majority of whom are women and children, live in improvised shelters.
The settlements have limited access to hygiene facilities, thus heightening the risk of communicable diseases.
In Baidoa, half of the estimated more than 246,000 IDPs, are at the risk of flash flooding. Over 50 per cent of the shelters for IDPs cannot withstand heavy rains and accompanying winds. Some of the IDP settlements are constructed on marginal lands for settlement resulting in inundation with water, increasing the risk of diseases such as malaria and acute watery diarrhea(AWD)/cholera. Some 70 per cent of latrines have either been damaged or filled with flood water. In Banadir region, an estimated 10,000 displaced households (60,000 people) face the risk of flash floods. The region hosts more than 497,000 IDPs - the highest number in the country.
In Galgadud region, heavy rains resulted in flash floods that destroyed IDPs shelters in settlements in low lying land in Abudwaq town. Two children reportedly died due to flash flooding in Cadaado town. An estimated 9,300 displaced people in Danwadaag, Kulmiye and Wadajir settlements have been affected and an unknown number has moved to Cadaado town until flooding recedes. Some of the latrines built by humanitarian partners were also destroyed. Poor hygiene and stagnant water may trigger diseases. Immediate humanitarian needs include shelter, food, latrines and health services. The affected people in Abduwaq town have requested relocation in order to avoid secondary displacement caused by flooding, but re quire support to relocate.
In Jubaland, an estimated 28,200 people have been displaced by flash flooding. This includes 8,000 in Saakow; 6,000 in Bu’ale; 6,000 in Luuq; 6,000 in Afmadow; 1,200 in Ceel Waaq villages and some 7,000 people in Jilib and Jamaame riverine areas who have been temporarily displaced to nearby highland areas. One person is reported to have died as a result of flash floods in Ceel Waaq and another two in Ceel Cadde. In Afmadow, 1,000 latrines have been destroyed, raising fears of water-borne diseases. More than 1,000 farms have also been affected by flash floods in Jilib and Jamaame and another 204 farms in Doolow and Luuq. Jilib and Jamaame are in low lying areas of the Juba River and if flooding continues, up to 350,000 people are at risk. Due to the presence of Al-Shabaab, humanitarian partners have little access to such areas in Middle Juba region.
In Middle Shabelle, the Shabelle River burst its banks displacing people in Horseed area. Farms and IDP shelter were washed away. Some 7,000 affected people have moved to Hantiwadaag village in Jowhar. According to partners, an estimated 13,000 have been affected by flooding.
In Hiraan region, thousands of people have been affected after the Shabelle River burst its banks and its inlets overflowed into parts of Belet Weyne town and several riverine villages inundating houses and crops. Belet Weyne airport has been unserviceable for extended periods over the course of the last week due to inundation by rain waters, which hampers the delivery of supplies. As of 22 April, the river level was at 7.75 meters, which is 0.45 meters above high flood risk level. Initial reports suggest that more than 500 people from Hilaac, Kutimbo and Donsubagle have been displaced with some moving with their possessions, including livestock to safer areas.
Another 100 households fled their homes in Kooshin and Xawo-Tako neighborhoods. Some 4,530 people have been affected in riverine villages north of Belet Weyne town, another 1,000 people in Lebow and Shiinile villages were surrounded by water due to the overflow. The Shabelle River level is expected to rise and as many as 200,000 people could be at risk of flooding in Belet Weyne town and nearby riverine villages.