Since mid-March, at least 22 people have lost their lives and over 219,000 have been forced to flee their homes in 17 districts across Somalia due to severe flooding caused by the overflow of the Shabelle river, according to the United Nations.
The flood has affected Belet Weyne town and surrounding villages, with thousands of people being forced to abandon their homes and move to higher ground. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has issued an urgent appeal for assistance to those affected, highlighting the dire need for humanitarian aid to support the affected communities.
The situation is particularly dire in Baardheere in Jubaland State and Baidoa in Southwest State, where thousands of people have been displaced, and localised flooding is reported in Somaliland, Puntland, Galmudug and Jubaland.
Should heavy rains continue in Somalia and the Ethiopian highlands, it is estimated that flash and riverine floods could impact up to 1.6 million people and displace over 600,000, mostly in flood-prone areas along the Juba and Shabelle rivers and parts of Bay and Banadir regions.
The ongoing rains are expected to recharge surface water sources and enable vegetation to regenerate, which is important for human and livestock survival, at a time when much of the country is still reeling from the impact of the worst drought in four decades.
However, it will take much more rainfall to effectively alleviate the impact of the recent drought. Recovery from six consecutive seasons of poor rainfall performance will take time.
The UN and its partners are responding to the crisis by providing emergency shelter, food, clean water, and medical care to those affected by the floods. However, the situation remains critical, and more support is needed to assist the affected communities.
The rains could also exacerbate outbreaks of waterborne diseases, adding another layer of complexity to the already dire humanitarian situation.
The UN and its partners are calling for urgent action to address the needs of those affected by the floods, including the provision of emergency aid and long-term support to help them recover from the disaster.