Disease outbreak fears over floods

Weeks of heavy rain in Somalia spark fears of malaria and malnutrition as more than a quarter of a million people displaced in a few days.

Thousands more families are at risk of being displaced as heavy rains continue to pummel many parts of Somalia, with bad weather forecast to last throughout much of November, Islamic Relief has warned.

The rains, caused by heavy than usual seasonal Deyer rains that fall in the last few months of the year, have already spread devastation throughout much of central Somalia, sparking deadly flash floods, submerging whole neighbourhoods and destroying vital infrastructure.

With the flood waters slow to recede, diseases like malaria and diarrhoea are already on the rise.

Dire conditions in Beledweyne, central Somalia

Since the heavy rain started, more than 270,000 people from Beledweyne in central Somalia have been displaced, and at least twenty have died, although the real figure could be much higher.

The vast majority – 230,000 of the displaced – have been forced to take refuge on a small piece of land in Beledweyne. Conditions here are terrible, with aid slow to arrive due to the rain and widespread shortages of food, water and medicine, which aid organisations unsure how they will handle an additional influx of people.

Islamic Relief was one of the first few first organisations to reach those affected, with our teams forced to hitch rides on tractors as many of the roads had washed away.

Ibrahim Abdi, Islamic Relief’s Emergency project officer in Somalia, said:

“The situation is dire and only getting worse. The water level is so high right now that one cannot tell the difference between the river and the land anymore.

”Because the floods came so quickly we did not know how to respond and could not retrieve them for hours and even days. Homes and farms have been completely destroyed.

“The rain is still falling, and if it continues to rain this week, I think we will see even more people try to flee to the already congested areas of high ground where almost a quarter of a million people have already taken refuge.

“There is no clean water, not enough food or medicine, and the tents are made of ripped and inadequate fabric that simply doesn’t keep the rain out. People also don’t have proper clothes or shoes to keep dry, and diseases like malaria and diarrhoea are already spiking. Even our teams are falling sick as they try to respond to the crisis.”