The recent torrential rains across Somalia have affected an estimated 166,000 people. The forecast for the week ending 20 May indicates a dry spell across Somalia and in the Ethiopian highlands, which is likely to reduce the risk of flooding along the Shabelle and Juba rivers.
Humanitarian partners are concerned about Belet Weyne where the risk of flooding remains. In Jowhar district, about 27 villages affecting 11,000 households have been inundated due to river breakages at Moyko and Baarey. On 16 May, the Hiiran Flood Taskforce convened a high-level meeting to discuss the response.
Key air and road transportation routes have been affected, impacting on availability of food supplies and partners’ ability to reach affected populations.
Despite increasing needs due to multiple shocks, the 2021 Somalia Humanitarian Response Plan requires US$1.09 billion to assist four million people but is only 19 per cent funded as of 16 May.
The recent torrential rains across Somalia affected an estimated 166,000 people. While the rains have reduced in some areas, humanitarian partners are alarmed that Somalia has been hit by a double climate disaster, with drought declared on 25 April and heavy rains last week causing riverine and flash flooding. The seven-day forecast ending 20 May indicates a dry spell is likely across Somalia and in the Ethiopian highlands, which may lead to a reduction of the risk of flooding along the Shabelle and Juba rivers.
Humanitarian partners are particularly concerned about areas where the risk of flooding remans, particularly in Belet Weyne in Hiiran region and Doolow in Jubaland where there remains a high-risk level of flooding as the water from Ethiopia highlands stream in. The flood wave from Belet Weyne will be transmitted to the middle and lower reaches towards the end of the week and therefore there is a moderate risk of flooding in these areas during this week. The situation could be further exacerbated by weak river embankments and open riverbanks, which is already causing floods in Jowhar.
The level of the Shabelle has increased substantially. As of 17 May, the river level is 7.33 meters which is 0.97 meters below the full bank of 8.30 meters. Although the rains have stopped and reports from the upper stream towns of Qalafe, Mustaxil and Buurukur indicate a decline in the river level, a mass of water is reportedly moving towards Belet Weyne. About 27 villages affecting 11,000 households (66,000 people) have been inundated due to river breakages at Moyko and Baarey in Jowhar district, Middle Shabelle region. In addition, thousands of hectares of farmland are inundated, impacting the livelihoods of a large number of small-scale farmers. Reports also indicate that the Burfule breakage in Mahaday district has also flooded several villages. In addition, water from Baareey is reportedly moving towards Balcad. The river level in Jowhar is 4.08 meters while the high-risk level is 5.25 meters. A multi sector assessment is ongoing.
A rapid assessment in Jowhar by the INGO, SOS Children’s Villages, found that floods have destroyed schools thereby interrupting learning for many children. The floods also inundated social centers, camps, wells, water points, mosques and football fields. Women and girls are at a heightened risk of sexual violence given that they are exposed to open living conditions and lack protective shelter. Community leaders indicated that many separated families are residing in different locations, thereby increasing the risk gender-based violence (GBV).
The current rains came late and have been below average in some areas, which has significantly affected the critical Gu’ crop planting season. On 16 May, local authorities and the Food Security Cluster partners in Bakool, South West State, reported that most of the areas in the region are experiencing abnormally erratic and poorly distributed Gu’ rain. While the rains have eased drought conditions, improved water availability and supported the livestock sector, the current rainfall will not be sufficient for sustainable agricultural production.
In Banadir region, some displaced people in Buloxubey, Wadajir, have started to return to their houses after flood waters receded. At least 15 households whose houses were totally destroyed by flash floods are still stranded, living on the streets. No assistance has reached these families. Shelter, NFIs, mattresses, and construction of a wall between their houses and the feeder road where the water passed have been identified as urgent needs.
On 12 May, about 300 flood-displaced people from Jowhar reached Kahda district in Banadir region where they are in need of assistance. Between 15 April – 5 May, two health partners recorded 199 suspected AWD/Cholera cases including 10 deaths in the health facilities of Cadale. WASH regional partners in Banadir report that approximately 120 flood-displaced households (720 people) are now in Daynile, Dharkenley, Wadajir, and Kahda districts. Some 17 latrines were also destroyed by flash floods.
The floods also disrupted transportation modalities, particularly air and road access. Afmadow airstrip in Juba region was affected and Ugas Khalif airport in Belet Weyne closed due to flooding of the airfield. According to the Logistics Cluster, both Berdale and Qansadhere airstrips are accessible from the Jowhar corridor but could be affected if heavy rains continue. According to WFP’s Joint Market and Supply Chain Update for 9-16 May, the supply corridor between Asho–Ado village to Zeila in Somaliland is inaccessible due to the heavy rains. Trucks are using the alternative route of Hariirad–Tokoshi–Zeila which has led to increased lead-time. Similarly, in Hirshabelle, the main road connecting Jowhar and Mahaday is cut off as result of the river flooding with boats the only available means of transportation. In addition, the main road connecting Jowhar town and the airport was cut by the river floods and people are using boats to and from the airport. However, transport between Balcad and Jowhar has resumed following a reduction in rainfall. Poor access and Eid festivities pushed prices of fruits and vegetables up. In Galmudug, the main road linking Gaalkacyo and Saaxo is inaccessible due to effects of Gu’ rains. In Jubaland, food supply constraints have been reported in Bardhere, Afmadow and Dhobley towns due to recent heavy Gu’ rains. The roads are inaccessible affecting food supplies from source markets such as Baidoa and Kismayo.
The combined impact of drought and floods is likely to exacerbate the already critical food security situation in Somalia, where more than 2.7 million people are projected to be food insecure. Furthermore, these climate shocks will cause displacement, jeopardize access to safe water, contribute to an increase of water-borne diseases and negatively impact livelihoods.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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