Thousands homeless as El Nino floods sweep Somalia

  • By Katy Migiro
  • 28/10/2015

In this file 2013 photo, displaced Somali women queue for rations at a food distribution centre after moving to higher ground due to flooding in areas around Jowhar, a town north of Somalia's capital Mogadishu. REUTERS/Omar Faruk


NAIROBI - Flash floods in Somalia have destroyed thousands of makeshift homes, as well as latrines and shallow wells, the United Nations said, predicting that up to 900,000 people could be hit by the strongest El Nino weather phenomenon in decades.

The floods, which have made roads impassable and cut thousands off from aid, could reverse many of the humanitarian gains made in southern Somalia since 2011 when the Horn of Africa nation was devastated by famine, experts say.

Some 3.2 million Somalis -- one-third of the population --already needed life-saving aid and over one million were internally displaced before the rains began on Oct. 7.

"The El Niño conditions come amid an already fragile humanitarian situation," the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement late on Tuesday.

"Flash floods have affected thousands of people in the low lying areas of the southern and central parts of Somalia."

The United Nations said it could not give a figure for the number of people hit by flooding nationwide. Its regional breakdown detailed over 55,000 affected, at least 18,000 of whom had been displaced, in seven areas.

Between 500,000 and 900,000 Somalis could be affected by El Nino, the United Nations said.

El Nino, caused by Pacific Ocean warming, has caused drought in other parts of Africa, including Ethiopia where eight million people need food aid.

In Somalia, aid workers have pre-positioned boats, food, medical supplies and hygiene and sanitation kits in the most at risk areas.

River banks are being strengthened and displaced people in the capital, Mogadishu, have been moved to higher ground.

"Protection efforts include a particular focus on internally displaced (IDP) given that many of the existing IDP settlements are located in areas prone to flooding, with shelters providing insufficient protection against heavy rains and winds," OCHA said.

The Deyr rains, one of Somalia's two annual rainy seasons, usually end in December.

This year's El Nino phenomenon is expected to peak between October and January and could turn into one of the strongest on record. The last "super El Nino" was in 1997-8.

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Braced or its partners.


From camel to cup

From Camel to Cup' explores the importance of camels and camel milk in drought ridden regions, and the under-reported medicinal and vital health benefits of camel milk


As climate risks rise, insurance needed to protect development

Less than 5 percent of disaster losses are covered by insurance in poorer countries, versus 50 percent in rich nations

Disasters happen to real people – and it's complicated

Age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and many more factors must be considered if people are to become resilient to climate extremes

NGOs are shaking up climate services in Africa. Should we be worried?

A concern is around the long-term viability of hard-fought development gains

The paradox of water development in Kenya's drylands

In Kenya's Wajir county, the emphasis on water development is happening at the expense of good water governance

Latest Photos


Update cookies preferences