Ethiopia Floods – 8,000 Families Displaced

According to local reports, the Awash River in the Afar Region of Ethiopia has burst its banks causing floods which have forced around 8,000 families form their homes. The affected are moving to safer, higher ground and are staying in temporary shelter.

The Ministry of Water, Energy and Irrigation said in a statement on Wednesday 15 October 2014 that they are working with UNICEF and other NGOs to send in food and relief supplies, which are being distributed using Ethiopia National Defense Force helicopters and boats.

The flooding has covered around 5,200 hectares of land, causing damage to crops such as cotton and sugar cane.


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Floods in the Awash River Basin

There has been little information given out from official quarters in Ehtiopia regarding the recent flooding. We can only assume that the river flooding this time has followed a similar course to previous years.

The Awash River basin regularly floods in August and September, usually after heavy rainfall in the eastern highlands and escarpment areas of North Shewa and Welo. Heavy rain upstream of the Koka Dam and Reservoir do not normally result in severe flooding.

The Awash has a number of tributary rivers draining from the highlands. The highlands have also suffered from increased deforestation. These factors make rapid increases in Awash river levels more likely, flooding low-lying areas along the river. According to a report by IWMI, floods also regulary affect marshlands such as the area between the towns of Debel and Gewane in the vicinity of Lake Yardi and the lower plains around Dubti down to Lake Abbe.

2006 Floods

Flooding in October is quite unusual in Ehtiopia. The rainy season normally starts in June and ends in September.

In August 2006 heavy rain caused the Omo River to flood. As many as 456 people died and 20,000 were displaced.

Floods in the Amhara region of Ethiopia, 2006. Photo: Andrew Heavens
Floods in the Amhara region of Ethiopia, 2006. Photo: Andrew Heavens