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Climate crisis worsens in Somalia amid Shabelle River flooding

Al Mayadeen
Saturday May 20, 2023

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) requests immediate funding to step up relief efforts.

In 2019, locals constructed a protective wall on the bank of the Shabelle River in Somalia, which contributed to preventing floods during previous heavy rains. However, the wall was unable to withstand the force of the water this time.

A week after the floods began, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) requested immediate funding to step up relief efforts, This week, the Somali Disaster Management Agency handed help to affected families.

Flash flooding in central Somalia has killed 22 people and affected over 450,000, the UN's humanitarian agency OCHA said on Sunday, after the Shabelle River burst its banks, forcing tens of thousands out of their homes.

Heavy rainfall earlier in the week sent water gushing into homes in Beledweyne town in the Hiran region, submerging roads and buildings as residents grabbed their belongings and waded through flooded streets in search of refuge.

"Initial estimates indicate that the flash and riverine floods across Somalia have affected at least 460,470 people, of whom nearly 219,000 have been displaced from their homes mainly in flood-prone areas, and 22 killed," the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

The floods "have left a trail of destruction... inundating homes and farmland, washing away livestock, temporarily closing schools and health facilities, and damaging roads," the agency said in a situation report.

The disaster comes on the heels of a record drought that has left millions of Somalis on the brink of famine.

Residents told AFP earlier that the floods have become a familiar ordeal to many of them, with experts saying that extreme weather events are happening with increased frequency and intensity due to climate change.

East and Central Africa often suffer from extreme weather during the rainy seasons.

Earlier this month, 135 people were killed and more than 9,000 were left homeless after heavy rains lashed Rwanda, triggering floods and landslides in several parts of the hilly nation.

More than 400 people lost their lives due to torrential downpours, floods, and landslides last week in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

In May 2020, at least 65 people died in Rwanda as heavy rains pounded the region, while at least 194 deaths were reported in Kenya.

At the end of 2019, at least 265 people died and tens of thousands were displaced during two months of relentless rainfall in several countries in East Africa.

The extreme downpours affected close to two million people and washed away tens of thousands of livestock in Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.


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