Shabelle River, Somalia

Dalsan Radio in Mogadishu, reported on 25 November that the Shabelle River in the Middle Shabelle region, had again started to flood and that thousands of people in nearby areas, including many in Jowhar town, were forced to leave their homes and seek shelter on higher ground.

Somalia is currently suffering flood disasters in two separate regions. Puntland is still recovering from the floods brought by tropical Storm 03A on 11 November 2013.

Middle Shabelle, however, has been suffering from flooding since around September this year. The flooding is a result of heavy rainfall in the highland regions in the Horn of Africa.

Thousands of people have been force to leave their homes, including those living in the town of Jowhar. The situation there is worsened by violent clashes between rival ethnic groups. In fact there have been some reports that a breach in a river embankment couldn’t be fixed because of the violence and fighting, leaving more water from the Shabelle River to flood the area.

Livelihoods have been ruined after crops were destroyed in the floods. To make matters worse, food shortages could well be on the horizon, and flooded fields mean that the farmers are likely to miss the planting season. For some in the area, clean drinking water is now scarce as some sources have become contaminated by the flood water.

There is some better news for the people of the region. There has been a significant reduction in rainfall in Somalia since 27 November, and more importantly, the upper catchments of the Shabelle river in the Ethiopian highlands have also seen a reduction in rainfall, with around 10mm to 30mm.

shabelle river
Shabelle River. Photo: twitter.com/evolvingprimate

Howvere, the Middle Shabelle is not yet fully out of the water. According to Somalia Water and Land Information Management (SWALIM)

There will be a significant reduction of rainfall amounts in the coming week. However, due to the current antecedent soil moisture conditions and the relatively high river levels, the likelihood of floods occurring in Juba and Shabelle remains high in the forecast period especially in the lower reaches of the Rivers due to weak river embankments and open river banks.

Map:
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Sources: SWALIM (pdf); Dalsan Radio; ICRC