International aid agency CARE reported this week that as many as 91 people are now thought to have died as a result of heavy rains and flash floods in Yemen, with more heavy rain likely.
Rainfall 300 Percent Above Average
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, rainfall in the month of July was nearly 300 percent above average. Amanat Al Asimah, Dhamar, Amran, and Sana’a reported heavy downpours exceeding 150 mm and usually dry governorates such as Hadramaut and Al Maharah were extremely wet throughout the month.
91 Dead, 30,000 Families Affected
Widespread destructive flash floods have resulted in infrastructure, homes, food stock, and livestock being washed away. According to CARE, nearly 30,000 families have been affected, and at least 91 people killed, a figure expected to rise, with many more injured or missing. The most hard-hit governorates have been Hajjah and Mahweet in the northwest and Marib in central Yemen.
“The country has been grappling with the impact of over 7 years of conflict, resulting in one of the highest populations of internally displaced people in the world. It’s therefore devastating to witness families who have been making do with the bare minimum, who have been living in tents for years, struggling to access the most basic of services, now have what little they had left washed away and destroyed,” said Bushra Aldukhainah, Area Manager for CARE Yemen’s office in Hajjah. “Over the past days, we have mobilized our teams to respond to the most immediate needs of those affected. We have already provided 25 families with cash assistance and are preparing to assist 230 more families.”
However, over 15,000 families affected in Hajjah will need access to food, water, shelter, sanitation, and to replace damaged or washed away belongings. CARE and other humanitarian actors are working to ensure at least 4,000 families in Hajjah are provided with cash assistance to enable them to meet their needs. ” said Bushra.
At least 190 sites housing over 12,000 internally displaced families in Marib have been damaged by flooding, alongside the communities who have been hosting them.
Flood Threat Until End of August
More heavy rain is forecast over the coming days. “Floods with devastating impact are expected to continue to the end of August. Renewed interest in early action against floods at all levels should be considered a matter of urgency,” FAO said in a recent agrometeorological update for Yemen (pdf).
“Chances of continued flooding based on rainfall forecast analyses remain high until the end of August. While floods which pose a potent threat to lives, agriculture, and livelihoods cannot be eradicated, they can be managed. Therefore, this early warning of the potential for continued flooding calls for renewed interest in early action against floods at all levels including but not limited to humanitarian agencies, government, and individual farmers,” FAO added.
WHO Provides Emergency Assistance
The World Health Organization (WHO) has provided emergency assistance, in an urgent response to the needs of communities affected by floods in Yemen, the UN agency said on 17 August 2022.
WHO has supported four specialized trauma teams and six on-duty ambulances, as well as set up 34 epidemiological early warning detection points in Ma’rib – one of the most affected governorates – where thousands of shelters for displaced families were destroyed.
Essential emergency health supplies were also released to the rapid response and emergency medical teams in Hajjah, Al Mahaweet, and Raymah governorates.
Along with its constant monthly supply of 144,600 litres of fuel to 11 hospitals, WHO worked with health authorities to prepare a comprehensive heavy rainfall and floods preparedness and response plan in Al Hodeidah governorate.
WHO has also provided the Central Public Health Laboratory with equipment and trained 25 laboratory technicians on the microscopic diagnosis of malaria.
“With heavy rains expected to continue until the end of August 2022, we have scaled up our response to reach affected people and prevent any potential outbreak of these diseases,” said the WHO representative.
Additional cholera kits, IV fluids, rapid diagnostic tests for cholera, and supplementary modules of the interagency emergency health kit are under way. WHO continues to provide aid as the situation evolves.
Featured photo: file photo from floods in Yemen in 2020. Photo: UNHCR