Flooding affects now thousands of displaced families in the camps in Baidoa, Somalia. Many latrines have been ruined, and the threat of waterborne diseases has risen - especially for children. Photo: Adam Nur Omar/NRC

Heavy flooding hammers vulnerable communities in Somalia

Published 27. Apr 2018
Over 427,000 people have been affected by heavy flooding across Somalia in April.

“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. Countless displaced communities are sheltering in flood-prone areas. With limited access to proper toilets and clean water, it’s a ticking time bomb for disease outbreaks like cholera and malaria,” warned Victor Moses, Somalia Country Director for Norwegian Refugee Council.

In the Baidoa town alone, about 174,000 people have been affected by flooding. Over half of their existing shelters can’t withstand heavy rains, and many have already been washed 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 neighbouring community. I’m staying there until the water dries 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, according to the United Nations. 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.