According to the UN’s humanitarian organization OCHA, flash flooding in central Somalia has killed 22 people and affected over 450,000 people as the Shabelle River breached its banks, causing tens of thousands to flee their homes.
Water gushed into homes in Beledweyne town in Hiran region earlier this week, burying roads and buildings as locals gathered their things and waded through flooded streets in search of refuge.
“Initial estimates indicate that the flash and riverine floods across Somalia have affected at least 460,470 people, with nearly 219,000 displaced from their homes, primarily in flood-prone areas, and 22 killed,” according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The floods “have left a trail of destruction… inundating homes and farmland, washing away livestock, temporarily closing schools and health facilities, and damaging roads,” according to a situation report issued by the agency.
The calamity follows a historic drought that has pushed millions of Somalis to the verge of hunger, and the volatile country has also been fighting an Islamist insurgency for decades.
Residents have told AFP that the floods had become a common nightmare for many of them, with experts claiming that extreme weather events are occurring with more frequency and intensity as a result of climate change.
Fartun Ali, not her real name, claimed she was fleeing flash flooding in Beledweyne for the fifth time.
“Whenever the river breaks its banks, we flee,” the mother of eight, 35, told Reporters.
During the rainy season, East and Central Africa are frequently subjected to harsh weather.
Earlier this month, severe rains drenched Rwanda, causing floods and landslides in numerous sections of the hilly country, killing 135 people and displacing over 9,000 others.
Last week’s severe rains, floods, and landslides killed over 400 people in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In May 2020, at least 65 people died in Rwanda as a result of torrential rains, while at least 194 people died in Kenya.
During two months of continuous rain in numerous East African countries towards the end of 2019, at least 265 people died and tens of thousands were evacuated.
In Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda, the heavy rains harmed about two million people and washed away tens of thousands of livestock.