Ethiopia – Deadly Flash Floods in Dire Dawa

Deadly flash flooding has struck in eastern Ethiopia, with flooding also reported in southern areas. Flash flooding has affected parts of neighbouring Somalia over the last few days. Authorities warn of a high risk of flooding along the Shabelle and Juba rivers in the coming days.


At least 4 people have died in flash floods that struck in the city of Dire Dawa, Ethiopia, 24 April 2020. Several people have been injured.

The flooding caused widespread damages to homes and infrastructure, although full damage assessments are yet to be completed. Two of the fatalities occurred when homes collapsed. Flooding struck after heavy rain caused the normally dry Dachata River that runs through the city to overflow.

Heavy rain and flooding has been reported in southern parts of the country. Local observers said the Neri River broke its banks, flooding parts of Jinka in Debub Omo Zone of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region (SNNPR) in the south west of the country.

Further east, flooding was also reported along the Shabelle River in Ethiopia’s Somali Region, with the towns of Kelafo and MustahÄ«l in the Gode Zone said to be among the worst affected.


Heavy rain has also affected parts of Somalia. In a report of 27 April, the Somalia Water and Land Information Management Project (SWALIM) said “The 2020 Gu (April-June) seasonal rains continued to intensify across Somalia during the 4th week of April. Compared to the previous two weeks, there was a significant increase of rainfall in most parts of Somalia as well as the eastern Ethiopian highlands. Many areas observed more than three days of consecutive heavy rains across the country. The good rains received so far have continued to replenish water and pasture resources. An improvement in livestock body conditions and milk production has been reported as well. On the downside, parts of the country experienced flash flood and flooding has begun in the Juba and Shabelle rivers.”

SWALIM said flash flooding affected Bay and Bakool regions after heavy rains, affecting some IDP settlements within Baidoa town. Bur Hakaba, Baardale, Huddur and Qansadheere districts were the most affected. Moderate risk of flooding remain in this area.

A high risk of flooding is foreseen along the Shabelle over the coming days. SWALIM said:

“Heavy rains within the Shabelle basin both in Ethiopia and inside Somalia have led to a drastic increase in river levels along the Shabelle River. Most of the stations in the basin recorded 50 mm to 100 mm of rainfall in the last three days. In Belet Weyne and surrounding areas, river levels recorded a sharp increase in the last 72 hours, which has seen a rise of 3.50 m to 6.00 m as of today. This is only 0.50 m below the moderate flood risk level. The river level at Bulo Burti is 3.50 m, which is 1.5 m increase in the last 72 hours, and is 2.5 m below the moderate flood risk level; however, this is likely to increase rapidly in the next few days. In Jowhar, there has been a 1.00 m increase in river level in the last 24 hours following heavy rains in the area last night. A similar trend has been observed in Balcad and the lower reaches of the river. The river levels are expected to continue rising along the entire channel of Shabelle as more waters from the Ethiopian highlands are still streaming in”

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