Extreme weather displaces 273,000 Somalis

More than 273,000 people have been left displaced due to severe flooding across Somalia as more extreme weather looms.

Several thousand people in the worst-affected area of Baladweeyne are sheltering under trees or in emergency tents after their makeshift homes were washed away by floods caused by torrential rain, according to the press statement from the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

NRC calls for an urgent humanitarian response to ensure aid can be provided safely to people in desperate need. “Floods have destroyed more than three quarters of Baladweeyne and submerged many surrounding villages. These are extremely poor parts of Somalia, where there is now no electricity and no safe drinking water,” said Victor Moses, Country Director for NRC in Somalia.

Livestock has been lost and agricultural production has been decimated. Our team is extremely worried about at least 30,000 vulnerable families displaced by flash flooding in Bardaale, further south. These communities will need immediate response to survive and long-term support to recover,” he said.

273,000 people have been displaced by flooding in October alone, the vast majority in the Baladweeyne area due to the flooding of the Shabelle river, according to figures by the UNHCR and NRC-led Protection Returns and Monitoring Network (PRMN).

This brings the total number of people displaced by a combination of drought, floods and conflict so far this year in Somalia to 575,000. “The country is already ravaged by drought, which has contributed to the displacement of around thousands of people so far this year. Vulnerable communities become more dependent on humanitarian aid and find it harder to recover,” Moses said.

Displaced people, particularly children, mothers and the elderly are now facing serious hunger, health and protection risks in an area already receiving little to no humanitarian assistance due to insecurity and conflict. According to NRC staff on the ground, they are in desperate need of food, water, emergency shelter, health, and sanitation/latrines and mosquito nets.

“Food reserves have been destroyed, food markets are under threat and displaced people, particularly children, mothers and the elderly are at a high risk of hunger and illness. Water-borne diseases such as cholera could erupt and spread quickly. Stagnant waters are a breeding ground for mosquitoes and could result in a malaria outbreak,” added Moses.

“Baladweeyne and the entire Hiraan region have not received sufficient humanitarian support due to ongoing security risks and the prevalence of armed actors in the area. This is already an extremely vulnerable community and we could see huge suffering and potential loss of life, if rain continues to fall and aid isn’t received in time. A coordinated, multi-sectoral humanitarian response is urgently needed to support thousands of people.”

Furthermore, heavy rain is forecast across parts of Somalia while more flooding along the Shabelle and Juba rivers is expected over the coming weeks. The Puntland, Somaliland and Central regions are bracing themselves for a tropical storm, which is set to make landfall within the next 72 hours.

What happened?
– Persistent rain resulted in the Shabelle river bursting its banks with flood water coming in from neighbouring Ethiopia.

– Two new deaths and 10 people have been reported missing as of October 30, bringing the death toll to 14.

– As a result of the floods, displacement has intensified the vulnerability of the displaced populations (both previous IDPs and host communities) who depend on the economy of Baladweeyne for survival.

– Baladweeyne is an economic hub for Central Somalia, Puntland and Somaliland and depends on agricultural products like bananas, oranges and mangoes. The heavy to moderate rains have devastated agricultural lands.

– Baladweeyne hosts approximately 30,000 Internally displaced people (IDPs) living on undocumented land. Many of those IDPs were affected and displaced but received little emergency assistance from the federal government of Somalia. More than 2000 makeshift tents have been destroyed.

– The collapse of the market, money transfers, restrictions of movement due to floods, destruction of agricultural lands and death of livestock have heightened the food crisis in Baladweeyne.

– The northern parts of Somalia have remained mostly dry. Rains received so far have continued to replenish water sources further improving pasture growth and reducing water stress. There has been an improvement in livestock body conditions and milk production as well.

– Displacement figures compiled by the PRMN between January and September 2019 can be found here.