Somalia ramps up flood mitigation response as death toll nears 100

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This aerial photo shows a view of flood-hit Beledweyne, central Somalia, Nov. 20, 2023. (Photo by Abdullah Boyow/Xinhua)
This aerial photo shows a view of flood-hit Beledweyne, central Somalia, Nov. 20, 2023. (Photo by Abdullah Boyow/Xinhua)

Source: Xinhua

The Somali government and humanitarian agencies have stepped up mitigation measures, including rescue operations, in flood-prone areas as the death toll from El Nino-induced heavy rains and flash flooding rose to nearly 100.

MOGADISHU, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) — The Somali government and humanitarian agencies have stepped up mitigation measures, including rescue operations, in flood-prone areas as the death toll from El Nino-induced heavy rains and flash flooding rose to nearly 100.

The Somalia Disaster Management Agency (SODMA) said on Saturday that at least 96 people have died from the devastating floods that have affected 2.3 million others in the country.

The United Nations has warned that the devastating floods have exacerbated Somalia’s hunger crisis, with about 4.3 million people forecast to face crisis-level hunger or worse by the end of the year.

The flash floods have destroyed infrastructure and disrupted trade, education, and food supply services across the country.

SODMA Commissioner Mohamuud Moalim said more than 900,000 people have been displaced across the country as the government and humanitarian agencies rush against time to rescue those who have been marooned.

“Out of 96 deaths, 28 of them died in a boat that capsized after al-Shabab struck,” Moalim told journalists in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, on Saturday.

He called for coordinated flood mitigation efforts and urged citizens to remain vigilant as more downpours are expected in the coming days.

Photo taken on Nov. 21, 2023, shows a makeshift camp for internally displaced persons submerged in floodwater at Berdale, South West State of Somalia. (Photo by Abdi/Xinhua)

Somalia has been buffeted by heavy rains and flash floods caused by the combined effects of El Nino and a positive Indian Ocean Dipole, which typically enhances wetter conditions in the region.

El Nino is a climate pattern that occurs every two to seven years, while the Indian Ocean Dipole is a climate pattern linked to sea surface temperatures in the ocean.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), education across Somalia has been adversely affected by heavy rains and floods.

“There is an urgent need for temporary learning spaces and replacement of lost learning materials,” OCHA said on Sunday.

The UN agency said humanitarian agencies are targeting 225,000 students at risk of dropping out of school due to the impact of the devastating floods.

On Thursday, the cabinet said during its weekly meeting chaired by Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre that the government is working round the clock to help the people affected by the floods, as heavy rains continue to pound the country that is still reeling from one of the most severe droughts in 40 years.

The cabinet also called on humanitarian agencies and the Somali business community to help the people affected by the flash floods, the worst in decades.

A father and his sons are seen at a camp for internally displaced persons in Baidoa, South West State of Somalia, on Nov. 17, 2023. (Photo by Abdi/Xinhua)

According to SODMA, an estimated 4,000 livestock have been lost and over 136,000 properties damaged or destroyed.

The disaster agency said it has reached over 24,000 households with some form of humanitarian aid.

The floods came after the worst drought in four decades following five failed rainy seasons that has decimated livestock and crops, pushing the country to the brink of famine.

According to humanitarian agencies, the floods are the latest in a series of extreme weather events in recent years to hit Somalia, where communities find themselves at the sharp end of the global climate crisis.  

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