The increase in number, intensity and short-spaced occurrences of natural hazards continues to trigger a ‘domino effect’ in fragile regions of the country. This includes the loss of lives and livelihoods, repeated displacements, risk of disease outbreak, a risk of rise in inter-communal conflict – including over land and diminishing natural resources and an increase in protection concerns.
Ongoing riverine and flash flooding in central and southern regions of Somalia that has affected 770,000 persons and displaced 230,000 persons so far, comes at the backdrop of ongoing efforts to addressing needs stemming from drought spanning over four consecutive rainy seasons and which left 5.4 million persons in need of humanitarian assistance.
Recovery from the impacts of drought has been punctuated by sudden-onset crises and impediments such as the current floods, conflict, access constraints and long-standing risks and occurrences of localized inter-communal conflict, marginalization and violations of housing, land and property rights, thereby challenging the long-term reduction of vulnerability amongst affected populations.
Current flash flooding has so far affected 13 districts and another 16 districts have been faced with riverine flooding. Riverine flooding has so far affected 500,120 people of whom 214,596 are displaced; while areas receiving flash floods have seen 272,436 persons affected of whom 15,004 are displaced. The total population of the affected districts is at 6.2 million of which 1.1 million are noted to be in IPC 3 and 4 and 1.628 million i.e. 26% of the population had already been displaced prior to the flooding.
Access constraints brought about by the floods are hindering the provision of assistance in some affected areas. Humanitarian partners are having to rely heavily on air or boat transportation to deliver assistance. The supply of goods to markets within the affected areas has also been disrupted leading to increase in prices in some areas.
The Gu rainfall season is expected to continue until the end of June. If the above normal rains continue, there is a likelihood that more areas will be affected by floods hence increasing the number of people affected.
Humanitarian partners planned for the impact of floods in the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan and have now re-oriented their regular humanitarian activities to address the urgent needs arising from the flooding in new and current operational areas, including by aiming to achieve protection outcomes through assistance delivery; as well as capitalise on the opportunities presented and linked to the flooding situation that potentially could reduce food insecurity in the regions.
Urgent funding is needed to avert a larger scale humanitarian crisis and to benefit from the moisture conditions, which if adequately managed, is conducive for certain types of agricultural activity. The Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has released $ 5.1 M for life-saving activities while the Somalia Humanitarian Fund (SHF) will re-allocate funding in cases where money has been apportioned to locations now impacted by the floods and where partners are present and seeking a re-prioritization of response in order to save lives. This Response Plan has outlined the prioritized response activities and seeks $ 80 Million to meet the urgent needs of the affected population.
OVERVIEW AND HUMANITARIAN IMPACT
The seasonal Gu rains began in late February across the country with average to above-average rainfall being recorded in some areas. Rainfall totals during the first half of the April to June Gu season are some of the highest on the 1981-2017 record, equivalent to between 130 and over 200 per cent of average. The intense and sustained rains have affected areas already experiencing high levels of vulnerability as a result of drought, conflict and access constraints, thereby placing affected populations at a greater humanitarian risk. Most of these communities in the Central regions for instance, are already facing an acute food security and malnutrition and are in Crisis (IPC3) risk remaining extremely vulnerable through September 2018 in the absence of adequate or rapidly scaled up humanitarian assistance.
The rains have resulted in a sharp rise of water levels in the Shabelle and Juba River basins, leading to severe flash and river flooding across central and southern Somalia with Bay (South west State), Gedo (Jubaland), Hiraan and Middle Shabelle regions being the worst affected areas. Other areas also of humanitarian concern are Banadir, Galgaduud, Lower Juba, Middle Juba and Lower Shabelle. By the time of drafting this response plan, the forecast was for heavy rainfall in the Ethiopian highlands and river levels in the two basins in Somalia are expected to remain at high flood risk/full bank levels and overflowing with an escalated risk of flooding along the Juba and Shabelle rivers.
The flash and river flooding has so far affected an estimated 772,000 people and displaced nearly than 230,000 persons from their homes, as of 15 May 2018. The majority of the displaced are in Belet Weyne town and surrounding areas in Hirshabelle State where an estimated 204,000 people have been displaced or isolated by the floods. In Jubaland State, more than 206,000 people have been affected, of which 95,000 were displaced with the worst affected areas being those along the Juba River which include Bu'aale, Garbahaarey, Ceel Waaq, Luuq, Baardheere and Saakow. In South West State, 174,000 people have been affected with the worst-affected places being those hosting IDPs in low-lying areas. In Banaadir, an estimated 54,000 people are at risk of flash flooding.
Humanitarians are yet to establish the full impact of the flooding however, the situation has compounded an already fragile humanitarian condition in the country, exacerbated by a persistent and complex conflict and severe drought conditions from at least four consecutive poor rainy seasons which left 5.4 million people in need of assistance. Flooding has worsened the conditions in overcrowded Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) settlements as most of the affected areas host large numbers of IDPs. For example, the Banadir region hosts more than 497,000 IDPs - the highest number in the country- while an estimated 246,000 IDPs are in Baidoa. The destruction of 2,500 latrines and ensuing contamination of water sources in Galgadud, Dolow, Dhobley, Baidoa and Afgooye has already led to a surge in water and vector borne diseases in areas that had already been grappling with an AWD/cholera outbreak since December 2017. Since December 2017, health partners and the Ministry of Health have been trying to contain an AWD/cholera outbreak that was first reported in Belet Weyne and spread to areas along the banks of River Shabelle. To date 2,672 cases and 13 deaths have been reported. The most affected regions include Banadir, Lower Juba, Middle Shabelle and Hiraan which are also currently flood affected. Due to stagnant water, a total of 3,342 confirmed cases of malaria have been reported from the flood affected areas since the beginning of the year. A lack of adequate land registration, as well as the communal nature of land ownership and dynamics around clan-protection, may result in escalations of inter-communal conflict related to livelihoods and land. Experiences from 2013, earlier and later years illustrate that rights violations and protracted displacement may be triggered by situations of flooding, especially along the fertile riverbanks – the risk of which will be taken into account in relation to response design.
While the Gu rains are good for recovery from four consecutive failed rainy seasons, disruption of major supply routes may result in food shortages in some areas, leading to increased livestock and food prices. The costs of the flooding are estimated to be high due to damage to property, crops and livestock, negatively impacting livelihoods. In addition, nearly 50,000 hectares of cropland has been inundated and 500 tonnes of household grain stores damaged, potentially worsening food consumption gaps and limiting agricultural wage labour opportunities among poor households in rural and urban areas. In Jubaland, at least 2,000 farmers lost crops that were almost ready for harvesting, with additional farming infrastructure such as irrigation pumps damaged. In Belet Weyne, crops as well as food supplies in local shops have been lost due to the floods. Crops have also been destroyed by flooding in Banadir and Middle Shabelle. The destruction of food supplies and livestock will likely further exacerbate food insecurity, especially amongst riverine communities, that already experienced a severe deterioration during the 2017 drought. Throughout the flood affected areas, 22 nutrition facilities have been closed impacting over 6,600 acutely malnourished children. Multiple education facilities have been damaged or closed with at a minimum 15,000 school children affected, and with numbers likely to grow. Inter-agency rapid assessments are ongoing to gauge the needs in affected areas.
Initial reports indicate shelter, clean water, sanitation and food as the most critical needs.