By Fauxile Kibet
The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) council has warned that worst flooding is expected across Somalia where it revealed that over 427,000 people have been affected by flooding across the country in April.
According to Victor Moses, Somalia’s county director for the NRC, displaced people are currently seeking refuge in areas which are considered flood-prone, with limited access to clean water.
“Our staff on the ground have seen the elderly, women and children struggling to survive while their flimsy shelters are knee-high full of stagnant water. And worst is likely yet to come. The current situation is a ticking time bomb for disease outbreaks like cholera and malaria,” warned the director.
The refugee agency said that close to 174,000 people in Baidoa alone have been affected by flooding and that over half of their existing shelters cannot withstand heavy rains while many of the shelters have been swept away.
Many community latrines have been destroyed or filled with flood water. Forecasts predict more heavy rains in the coming week. One displaced mother in Baidoa told NRC staff how she delivered a baby during the flooding.
“My labour pains started in the middle of the rains. The flooding came into my house and the floods pushed us to seek refuge in a neighboring community. I’m staying there until the water dries out.”
According to the United Nations, out of the 427,000 people in Somalia that have been affected, nearly 175,000 of these have had to flee their homes or shelters. In low-lying areas of the Juba and Shabelle River basins, flooding is expected to continue.
In Hiraan region, the Shabelle River has already burst its banks, displacing over 122,000 people in Belet Weyne town and nearby riverine villages.
In Jubaland, the number of flood-affected people has risen to 165,000. In the Mogadishu area, 54,000 people in makeshift shelters have been affected in settlements for the displaced. More flooded communities are reported in the Galgadud, Gedo, and Middle Shabelle regions.
The UN reports that at least three people have died so far because of the floods, including two children. Across the country, 1.5 million people are in need of decent shelter.
Over 1.3 million people fled their homes due to drought and conflict since last year in Somalia. This year the situation is urgent, as flooding has added a new dimension to the crisis.
On Monday, the East African Seasonal Monitor released a report saying that rains across the Horn of Africa have surpassed expected amounts.
The report followed another released by the Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum which showed that since late March, rainfall has been above average over broad areas of Somalia, eastern and southern Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, and Burundi. Initial satellite-derived estimates suggest rainfall since late March has been as much as 200 percent of average across many areas.
“Overall, seasonal rainfall totals in excess of 150 percent of average have been observed across much of the region, though poor performance has been observed in parts of northern Ethiopia,” says the weather monitoring body.