Somalia – Floods Affect Over 60,000

Parts of northern Somalia and areas along the Juba and Shabelle River basins in Somalia and in the Ethiopian Highlands have experienced heavy rains following the start of the Deyr rains earlier this month. The Deyr is a season of short rains that usually runs from October to December.

Somalia Water and Land Information Management (SWALIM) say that “heavy rains are expected to continue in the Ethiopian highlands, Hiraan, Middle Shabelle, Galgaduud and Mudug regions over the coming days. Other areas that may record moderate rains include parts of Lower Shabelle, Bakool and Bay regions”.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) report that initial assessments suggest around 60,000 people have been affected by flooding across 6 regions of the country; Banadir region (5,000), Bay region (12,000), Lower Juba region (6,000), Middle Shabelle region (28,000), Gedo region (1,800) and Mudug region (10,000).

Areas affected by floods in Somalia, October 2015. Image: OCHA
Areas affected by floods in Somalia, October 2015. Image: OCHA

El Niño Expected to Increase Flood Risk

OCHA say that, while flooding is recurrent during this time of the year in low-lying areas of Somalia, El Niño conditions have intensified in 2015 and are likely to lead to a wetter than normal Deyr season in parts of the country.

SWALIM suggest that floods triggered by El Niño could affect up to 900,000 people along Somalia’s rivers.

Hussein Gadain, the Chief Technical Advisor of FAO Water and Land Information Management unit (SWALIM), said:

“While some countries experience depressed rains during El Niño events, Somalia experiences heavier rainfall amounts that usually lead to flooding that may cause diseases, death and destruction of property and infrastructure.

“If El Niño conditions materialize an estimated population of 900,000 people living in the riverine areas of the Juba and Shabelle rivers inside Somalia are likely to be affected by the floods.”

Breakages Along Juba and Shabelle Rivers Raise Concerns of Flooding

SWALIM has observed over 60 river breakages along the Juba and Shabelle, raising concerns of potential flooding.

SWALIM said that they have found “21 open points along the Shabelle and 47 along the Juba. Several other points with potential of breaking have been identified. The open and potential points need to be strengthened immediately and before the start of the Deyr rainy season in October 2015”.

River breakage in Somalia. Photo: SWALIM
River breakage in Somalia. Photo: SWALIM