Somalia - Floods Fact Sheet #1, Fiscal Year (FY) 1998


Background: The worst flooding since 1960 has hit Somalia's southern Juba and Shabelle River valleys as a result of extremely high amounts of rainfall in October, as much as 60 to 100 times normal amounts. The Juba River broke its banks in late October, followed by flooding of the Shabelle River. The rivers have now merged in the Middle Juba region, causing
catastrophic effects on a number of towns located throughout the Middle and Lower Juba Valley. The towns of Jilib and Jamame have been hard hit, as have the districts of Bualle and Sakkow. Downriver, the town of Mareerey has been completely destroyed. The Gedo and Bay regions (particularly the Baydhabo district) have been heavily affected as well. The Middle Juba and Bay regions are the most densely populated and most intensely farmed areas of Somalia. These rains follow a major drought in East Africa.

Numbers Affected: Over one thousand people are feared dead and 400,000 others have been affected by the floods. Of that number, 210,000 people have been displaced according to the Somali Flood Response Coordination Committee. This includes an estimated 80% of the population of Middle Juba. Agricultural damage in the region amounts to an estimated 50,000 hectares of land and the destruction of 30,000 tons of maize. Bridges are washed out and access roads are blocked, hindering access to affected populations. Response is also adversely affected by other factors such as strong river currents, crocodiles, snakes, looting, landmines, lack of communications, and logistical bottlenecks.

Current Situation: Large numbers of displaced persons (DPs) and destruction of food supplies have created a dire need for shelter, medicine and health kits, blankets, plastic sheeting, oral rehydration salts, clean drinking water and high energy food. On October 30, UN agencies, the donor community, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) met to form a Flood Response Coordination Committee. The Committee, consisting of the World Food Program (WFP), UNICEF, the UN Development Program/Department for Humanitarian Affairs (UNDP/DHA), USAID, and European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO), conducted aerial assessments of flood areas, determined storage capacity in areas targeted for airlifts, and held strategic coordination meetings to discuss priority needs and determine an appropriate response to the floods. UNICEF is responsible for overall coordination of the Somalia Inter-Agency Coordinated Flood Response. WFP is in charge of logistics.

The Flood Response Coordination Committee, after completing an aerial assessment of the flood area, developed a four phase plan to implement relief operations. The first phases, lasting four to eight weeks, consist of emergency rescue of stranded populations and the distribution of relief to displaced populations, utilizing helicopters, aircraft, and boats. The
subsequent phases will consist of rehabilitation of infrastructure damaged by the floods and eventual resettlement of those forced to flee.

The coordinated response efforts have involved NGOs and local private voluntary organizations (PVOs) as well as international organizations. The ICRC is delivering biscuits, medicine and relief supplies daily via flights from Nairobi and boats. World Vision Relief and Development (WVRD) has been distributing emergency food aid among displaced families since November 7. On November 10, Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) delivered 40 MT of food and non-food items by airlift. UNICEF delivered high protein biscuits to Bardera, moved sandbags to Jiohar to reinforce dikes, and deployed two
trucks of food and non food items from Mogadishu to Baidoa for distribution. Other organizations sending food and supplies include CARE and Church World Service (CWS). The Somali Flood Response Coordination Committee has hired four Huey helicopters from South Africa to deliver emergency aid and the Coordination Committee is working out arrangements to cover the $1.7 million cost.

U.S. Government (USG) Assistance: BHR/OFDA is responding to flooding in Somalia under the authority of the October 7 disaster declaration for Somalia's ongoing complex emergency issued by U.S. Ambassador Prudence Bushnell. On November 17, a BHR/OFDA airlift of 200 rolls of plastic sheeting, 8,000 blankets, and 4,000 water containers arrived in Nairobi for onward transport to Somalia by WFP and distribution by UNICEF. Subsequent flights from OFDA's stockpiles in Maryland and Italy will carry additional relief supplies, resulting in a total of 750 rolls of plastic sheeting, 60,000 blankets, and 30,000 water containers. These commodities will help meet the needs of an estimated 150,000 people and are valued at $536,250, with the cost of the airlift estimated at $550,000. BHR/OFDA is also donating $750,000 to WFP to assist in efforts to provide an air bridge and river support to UN agencies and other NGOs involved in relief efforts. BHR/OFDA is providing a $545,000 grant to WVRD to support the distribution of survival kits and a $500,000 grant to ICRC for the distribution of
blankets, plastic sheeting, and high protein biscuits.

BHR/OFDA Humanitarian Assistance FY 1998 (estimated value) $2,881,250