Government declares state of emergency; UN terms flooding in Somalia a "once-in-a-century" event
20 November 2023- World Vision has warned that the floods in Somalia have increased the scope of suffering and risk of disease outbreak for vulnerable children and their families, who had barely recovered from the effects of the prolonged drought in 2022.
The current floods have destroyed homes, schools, roads and bridges, leaving children without basic needs such as shelter, food, and clean drinking water. Flood waters have also contaminated clean water sources and damaged latrines, increasing the risk of disease outbreaks such as diarrhea, which can lead to malnutrition.
Kevin Mackey, Country Director for World Vision's programs in Somalia said: "The floods have made life extremely difficult for children. Ongoing flooding has destroyed homes forcing children and their families to leave their homes, some of whom are now sheltering in makeshift structures in the open. As they move, they are at increased risk of illness."
"Climate change and the destructive cycle of drought and floods is on display here, and often times, this falls first and hardest in poor and conflict-affected places," Mackey said.
"Last month, I met Aden Mohammed, a farmer in a district called Luuq, situated in the Gedo region. The floods completely destroyed their farm with all the watermelon, maize and fruit trees he had planted. The water pump too, was now submerged in water. Aden now needs support to feed his children, and he will have to start all over again, to recover and rebuild, so will most families impacted by these floods," Mackey said.
"Crocodiles too, have infested the water and farmers don't dare to wade into the waters to pick the fruit off the trees. This is what we are witnessing right now in parts of Somalia, where roads and homes have turned into rivers and many are anxious about the rising flood waters and how much more destruction it will bring," Mackey noted.
Months of heavy rains experienced not only in Somalia but also in neighbouring Ethiopia have raised water levels in the two main rivers in Somalia: Shabelle and Juba, breaking the banks and causing massive flooding. Settlements have experienced flash flooding, and farms and fields are saturated with water.
The floods have collapsed bridges, flooded and worsened road conditions, making movement and access increasingly difficult. With roads cut off, land transporters are unable to bring in food supplies. Main supply routes from neighbouring countries and big towns including the capital, Mogadishu have been cut off, markets disrupted, causing fears of food shortages.
Both road and air transport interruption have made the delivery of emergency response extremely challenging. World Vision, along our partners and the local authorities, has also been supporting with evacuation efforts, bringing families to higher ground. In anticipation of expected flooding, World Vision had also prepositioned emergency supplies in locations identified as hotspots. We had stockpiled nutrient-rich food, mosquito nets, and water purifiers. That has enabled a rapid initial response. However, with the flood waters rising daily, major supply roads cut off and air service unpredictable, the humanitarian needs continue to grow, as these essential supplies dwindle.
Mohamed Hassan, a community and faith leader in a district that's witnessed the worst of the floods, pleaded for urgent support. He noted that the floods had swept away everything. "The river which is infested with crocodiles has moved to where we used to stay, but the children want to play in the water. They don't know how dangerous it is," he said.
Government and humanitarian partners estimate that the floods have killed at least 30 people, among them children, displaced over 330,000 people and severely affected 1.2 million people. The Government has declared a state of emergency. The UN has termed the ongoing floods in Somalia, which have been particularly severe in the southern part of the country, a 'once-in-a-century' event.
About World Vision
World Vision in Somalia is a humanitarian and development organisation dedicated to working with children, families and their communities to reach their full potential by tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice. Since 1993, World Vision Somalia has been at the forefront of emergency response, establishing operations in remote locations and reach those most in need. We are on the frontlines across Somalia and Somaliland in nearly 80 districts, in some of the most difficult contexts, and in the floods' hotspots, responding to the needs of the most affected.
For more information, including media inquiries and spokespersons, please contact: Lucy Murunga, Senior Communications Manager | World Vision Somalia| Lucy_Murunga@wvi.org| Mobile: +254 721 484 112| +252 611090254