Somali Magazine – For weeks, forecasts have warned of increased rains due to El Nino this season, with a 90% chance it will trigger severe flooding in the Horn of Africa. In Somalia, where the planting season just started, farmers have barely recovered from one of the harshest droughts in years and yet again find themselves faced with another climatic event they have no control over. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), together with the Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS) are working closely with communities to help them prepare for potential floods.
According to humanitarian figures, an estimated 1.6 million people in Somalia will likely be affected because of the floods while 1.5 million hectares of land around the two main rivers – Juba and Shabelle – are at a high risk of being inundated by flood water.
“It [floods] is a very dangerous scenario. Sometimes it kills people. Your livelihood is swept away, and you have to start from scratch,” says Abdullahi Hassan, a farmer from Beledweyne, a flood prone town in the central Hirshabelle region of Somalia.
“You come back to bare soil.”
This year’s Gu rains in March triggered floods that wreaked havoc, particularly in Beledweyne and some parts of Jubaland region. More than 400,000 people were displaced. The floodwaters submerged homes and farms, washed away livestock, forced the temporary closure of schools and health facilities, and damaged roads. It is feared that the coming rains could be far worse.
The frequency of these weather events coupled with Somalia’s enduring conflict is making life difficult for communities in Somalia. Conflict has been the primary driver of displacement in the country this year.
“The interaction between weather events, conflict, and climate change is not a fantasy. It is a reality we see every single day. Climate change does increase conflict and suffering for people,” admits Pascal Cuttat, who is the head of the ICRC in Somalia.
The ICRC is working closely with the Red Cross Red Crescent (RCRC) Climate Centre to strengthen its preparedness in anticipation of the floods. To help communities prepare for the floods, the ICRC has distributed close to 75,000 sandbags across the country as an emergency measure.
Abdullahi is one among the 200 farmers in Beledweyne who received sandbags to protect their farms from river water. He hopes that the rains are not as harsh as anticipated and will be beneficial for his crop production.
“My whole family is dependent on this farm. I cannot leave because people are saying something is coming. We have to see with our eyes if El Nino will come. We have stopped planting for now. When the floods come, we will rescue what we can” he adds.
ICRC Flood Response
Over 74,700 sandbags have been distributed to communities
24 manual water treatment kits have been prepositioned
4 mechanical water treatment units have been prepositioned
Medical supplies to treat Acute Water Diarrhea provided to 26 SRCS clinics
49,000 household hygiene kits, each containing a mug, a mosquito net, a 20 litre jerry can, a bucket, soap, 20 water purifying tablets and a sanitary pad set have been prepositioned