Somalia – Thousands Displaced as Shabelle River Overflows

Thousands have been displaced in central and southern Somalia after the Shabelle River broke its banks causing a renewed humanitarian crisis, local media reported.

The river flooded a string of towns and villages from 15 May onwards, including central Hiran regional capital of Beledweyne, Middle Shabelle provincial capital Jowhar and the agricultural district of Mahaday.

The floods also washed away thousands of hectares of farmland in the village of Magay, with many villages being cut off due to muddy roads.

In Beledweyne, the flood waters entered deep into neighbourhoods, and people began fleeing with essential belongings according to provincial officials.

Beledweyne’s Koshin and Hawo Tako neighborhoods are said to be the worst-affected. Considerable tracts of farmland with mango and lemon crops have either been severely damaged or left swamped by the overflowing Shabelle River.

Local journalist, Omar Kiyow, told FloodList:

“Torrential rains for the past weeks have forced families to settle at nearby military camps in the hope of getting immediate assistance.

These homeless people in their thousands now appeal for urgent help from aid organizations.

The displaced families fear renewed cases of waterborne diseases with the most vulnerable being newly born children, newly delivered mothers and the elderly.

In other parts of the region, floods have left large areas with crops submerged, further exposing the population to food insecurity.

The town’s mayor says they have done an assessment report and will assist the families affected by the recent floods.

Aid agencies are warning that the floods are likely to worsen the already fragile food security situation with more than a million people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance across Somalia.

As for these people, they will remain in such makeshift camps for a while until water levels reduce in the Shabelle River and hope for immediate humanitarian assistance.”

3 Weeks of Floods in Somalia

The flooding in Beledweyne is the sixth incident of severe flooding in the country since the start of May which have left at least 4 people dead, over 80 injured, and caused severe damage to homes, roads and crops.

Awdal Region

Heavy rains between 30 April and 01 May in the village of Fiqi Adan, near the port town of Zeila in northwestern Awdal region of Somalia, left three people dead. Around the same time, floods damaged built-up areas in the commercial border town of Tog Wajaale, northwestern Somaliland.

Middle Shabelle Region

A week later, heavy rains in Ethiopian highlands caused the Shabelle River to overflow its banks on Saturday, 07 May, 2016, leaving vast stretch of farmland in Middle Shabelle region of southern Somalia under water. Flood waters invaded farm fields in the village of Bayahow, approximately 2km from Middle Shabelle regional capital of Jowhar.

Bari Province

On 10 May, heavy rains brought traffic on a major road in northeastern Somalia to standstill.

The rain flooded El Dahir Bridge near Bari regional district of Armo, Bari province, according to photographs sent to FloodList by photographer Maryama Dayib.

“People normally move to other major towns in Puntland due to summer heat in the Red Sea town of Bossaso. We were disrupted by damage to sections of the main highway,” said the eyewitness.

Puntland Highway Authority several times carried out a major repair project to get the key road back to normal.

Key highway flooded after 75mm of rain on May 10 Photo copyright: Maryama Dayib
Key highway flooded after 75mm of rain on May 10 Photo copyright: Maryama Dayib
Key highway flooded after 75mm of rain on May 10 Photo copyright: Maryama Dayib
Key highway flooded after 75mm of rain on May 10 Photo copyright: Maryama Dayib


On 13 May, at least one person was killed and 87 others injured after a three-hour downpour in northern Taleh town, in the eastern Sool region of Somaliland, according to local reports. The rain also flooded parts of the town, with accompanying strong winds downing mobile phone masts.

Somalia’s Garowe Online reported that 200 homes have been destroyed after torrential downpour caused the roofs of homes to collapse.

Maruf Abdi Ismael, a resident of Taleh told Puntland-based station, Radio Garowe that heavy rains and floods left 87 wounded, 20 of whom are in critical condition.

Another news site put the number of injured at 20. Communication lines remain severed, however independent sources tell Floodlist that 40 homes might have been destroyed.

The rain made the only road that connects Taleh to the regional capital, Garowe inaccessible.

Floods killed livestock and destroyed homes in the villages of Sarmanyo, Kalad and Herta.

Somalia’s Disaster Management Agency is said to be mobilizing food and medical supplies for the victims of heavy storm.

Reporting by Abdirashid M. Dahir, editing by Richard Davies.