500,000 Displaced in Somalia Flooding, Says Minister

Bridges, roads and houses have been damaged or destroyed and many people have been forced to flee their homes in search of safer ground. PHOTO/AFP

Somalia | THE BLACK EXAMINER | Persistent heavy rains, attributed to the El Nino weather phenomenon, have resulted in flash flooding in Somalia, prompting approximately half a million people to evacuate their homes and killing over 30, according to a statement by Information Minister Daud Aweis on Sunday. The affected regions include Gedo in southern Somalia and central Hiran, where the Shabelle River overflowed, causing substantial damage to Beledweyne town. The disaster follows a recent severe drought, leaving millions on the brink of famine.

Aweis stated that 1.2 million people could be affected, emphasizing that the death toll might be higher than the confirmed 31 casualties. The United Nations humanitarian agency (OCHA) described the flooding as “once-in-a-century,” warning that 1.6 million people could face the consequences. Somalia, already grappling with the challenges of an Islamist insurgency, is considered highly vulnerable to climate change.

The situation has been exacerbated by the combined impact of El Nino and the Indian Ocean Dipole, as per OCHA. El Nino, associated with global heat increase, drought in some areas, and heavy rains elsewhere, last occurred in 2018-2019. The ongoing rains have also claimed lives in Kenya and Ethiopia’s Somali region. The historical context highlights the recurring nature of such climatic events in the Horn of Africa, with devastating floods in 1997-1998 and 2019, as well as floods in 2006.

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Mimi Nina Lakhani
Mimi Nina Lakhani
I'm Nina, a Kenyan-born Tanzanian. I write about politics, business, investment, oil and gas, and climate. Reporting from Nairobi, Kenya. Daily News Tanzania (Tanzania) | Tuko (Kenya) | Eye Radio (South Sudan) | The Black Examiner (Uganda)