There was a significant reduction of rainfall and flooding activities in areas around River Shabelle and River Juba, as well as in many districts of Bay and Bakool regions. In Puntland, Somaliland and Central regions, there has been an improvement in terms of flooding, with no further risk of flash floods. Overall, larger parts of the country have remained dry since the end of December 2019.
In line with the Somalia Flood Response Plan, November 2019–January 2020 , the Health Cluster priorities were to prevent avoidable mortality and morbidity due to flood-driven environmental health hazards and displacement through access to health care and preventative measures, targeting 200,000 people.
Locusts: A Threat to Public Health
A mid-December 2019 Report published by the Food and Agriculture Organization (https://reliefweb.int/report/ethiopia/desert-locust-ravages-horn-africa) warned of the urgent need to control the Desert Locust invasion in Ethiopia and Somalia.
The long term effect of locusts infestation on public health is that as they destroy acreages of farmland, the mass destruction of food crops will result in severe acute malnutrition (SAM) among children.
Locusts have already destroyed 70,000 hectares (175,000 acres) of farmland in Somalia and Ethiopia, threatening food supplies in both countries in the worst locust invasion in 70 years, reports FAO.
**Health Cluster Flood Response Overview, Constraints and Lessons Learnt **
Overview: The Somalia Flood Response Plan, November 2019 – January 2020 estimated the total number of people affected by the floods at 547,000, of whom 370,000 were displaced. The Health Cluster priorities were to prevent avoidable mortality and morbidity due to flood‐driven envi‐ ronmental health hazards and displacement through access to health care and preventative measures, targeting 200,000 people. Interventions also aimed to scale up the capacity of emergency and essential health‐care services in areas where IDPs were located, and through mobile and outreach services to reach those in remote areas.
How the Partners Responded: From the results of online survey administered with cluster partners, at least 60% of the life‐saving interventions of the Health Cluster partner were through mobile health facilities, and 35% in static health facilities. Overall, 40% of the interventions were in Hiran region, 35% in Bay, 10% in Middle Shabelle and 10% in Lower Shabelle and Bakool regions.
The findings indicate that 85% of the response activities included provision of primary health‐care services, establishment of outreach services for immunization and other essential health care (80%), provision of essential medical supplies to flood affected people (60%), reduction of ma‐ ternal and child morbidity and mortality (55%) and stablish‐ ment of mobile medical units (MMU) in the flood‐affected areas/areas of displacement (50%).
Other interventions included Prevention, mitigation and control of water‐borne and vector‐borne diseases, Address‐ ing life‐threatening conditions related to communicable diseases, Strengthening/scale‐up of early warning dis‐ ease surveillance systems in the affected areas and De‐ ployment of rapid response teams (RRTs) for outbreak investigation and threat detection.
Summary of Results: In the midst of numerous con‐ straints, including access due to muddy impassable roads, road blockages, and lack of timely supplies, the Health Cluster partners reached at least 226,655 people by the end of December 2019. Of these, 27% were wom‐ en, 15% men and 58% children (33% girls and 25% boys).
Lessons Learnt: Flood management requires usable and reliable information about produced scenarios and flood history. Without appropriate measures and systems in place concerning the management of the Juba and Sha‐ belle rivers, and flooding as a hazard is viewed in isola‐ tion from a holistic water management system, flooding will aggravate year after year with increased occurrence and could lead to catastrophic devastations.
The collection, collation and reporting/escalation of health concerns raised by the callers of Radio Ergo helps to flag and map out the crisis areas. Escalation consti‐ tutes part of the advocacy activities and helps to draw the attention of partners and other stakeholders in mobi‐ lizing resources, logistics and the necessary support es‐ sential to respond to public health concerns in the crisis affected areas.
There is need for a long‐term strategy that will address flood risk management as part of integrated multi‐hazard disaster risk management and preparedness.