Ethiopia – 240,000 Impacted by Heavy Rains and Floods, 29 Dead, Says UN

The United Nations reports that flooding and heavy rain have affected or displaced around 240,000 people in several regions of Ethiopia since mid-March 2023. At least 29 people have died.

floods in Dubuluk, IDP site, Borena Zone Photo OCHA

According to a recent report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) the onset of the Belg and Gu rains have caused loss of life and damage to shelters, agriculture, livestock and infrastructure in the Afar, Oromia and Somali Regions. Increasing levels of the Omo River threaten to flood areas of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ (SNNP) Region. Many of those affected are in IDP (internally displaced persons) camps, displaced by long-term drought in the country.

UN OCHA reported floods have displaced 12,500 people in Dubti, Mile, Garani, Awash and Bori Modayto woredas (districts) of lower and central parts of the Afar Region. Hundreds of livestock have perished and crops destroyed.

In the Oromia region, shelters were damaged in IDP (internally displaced persons) camps set up for those affected by long-term drought conditions, affecting around 27,000 people in Dire and Dubuluk woredas.

The Somali region is the worst affected area. Flash floods have affected 200,000 people in the Region’s Shabelle, Afder Liban and Fafan zones. As many as 29 people have lost their lives, UN OCHA said. Floods have destroyed and damaged private homes, agricultural land, bridges, schools, water sources and other public infrastructure.

Images provided by the United Nations Satellite Centre UNOSAT showed flooding along the Shabelle River in Shabelle District. As of 28 March 2023, as much as 485 km2 of land was under water, with an estimated 40,000 people exposed to floodwaters.

Satellite detected water extent over the Shabelle District, Shabelle Region, Ethiopia, acquired on 28 March 2023. Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2023) Map produced by UNITAR / UNOSAT.

Meanwhile, rising levels of the Omo River are threatening to flood areas of Dassenech Woreda of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ (SNNP) Region. UN OCHA said Dassenech is “home to 60,790 flood IDPs, scattered in 16 gathering sites since 2020. These people were originally displaced following the uncontrolled release of water from the Gilgel Gibe 3 Dam in Dawuro Woreda in the South West Region in 2020.”

The country has endured long-term drought conditions following five consecutive failed rainy seasons. In March UN OCHA reported 24 million people were living in drought-affected areas and 11 million people were estimated to be food insecure.