The Belet Weyne community in Hirshabelle State, Somalia, has experienced floods, and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations and the Hirshabelle State Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management has appealed for immediate aid. The FAO's Somalia Water and Land Information Management (SWALIM) branch estimates that over 200,000 people have been affected by the flooding, which started in early May, and that 79 percent of the town has been inundated.
Ezana Kassa, FAO's Head of Programme in Somalia, said, "We are witnessing the Shabelle River’s greatest flooding occurrence in the last thirty years, and the situation for many displaced families is particularly perilous right now.”
Over 200,000 people have been forced from their homes, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and they urgently require food, water, shelter, and other life-saving aid. Kassa declared, "Livelihoods have been damaged and the risk of water-borne infections is rising. Local farmers who claim this season's harvest was looking more promising than during the previous three years of drought are being dealt an additional blow.”
Through its 'Digniin' early warning system, FAO not only provides flood information and analysis for humanitarian actors but also early warning messages to vulnerable communities. In addition, FAO is stepping up emergency cash transfers to affected families and supporting preparatory measures. Areas downstream, such as Bulo Burto, Jalalaqsi, and Jowhar, continue to be in a moderate to high danger of flooding.
Minister Asha Khalif Mohamed of the Hirshabelle State Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, the government organization in charge of the flood response, said, "We are calling on the international community to urgently assist the people of Belet Weyne and flood-affected regions." She claimed that in addition to coordinating the local flood response, the government has already started distributing emergency food and supplies to the impacted villages. As soon as the flood waters subside, "we need to be prepared to bring in what people need, stop disease outbreaks, and also help people get back on their feet through livelihood interventions," she said.
In Belet Weyne and the neighboring districts, FAO has recently intervened in flooding situations. Early reports indicate that FAO's flood mitigation efforts in 2022, which were supported by the governments of Italy, the United Kingdom, and the World Bank, prevented flooding for weeks longer than in prior years. But amid the greatest floods since at least 1991, the high water mark was exceeded by flood waters. Flood waters are still being held back by additional measures, averting a worse catastrophe.
The most recent in a string of natural disasters that have struck Somalia in recent years—a rising trend partly attributed to climate change—are these record floods. A severe drought that struck the nation in 2021–2022 placed it on the verge of famine and left 6.6 million people with severe food insecurity in its wake.
It serves as a reminder of Somalia's susceptibility to climate change. The nation is already among the most sensitive in the world to the consequences of climate change, and the most trustworthy scientific modeling predicts that shocks related to the environment will become more frequent in the coming years.
To lessen the impact of climatic shocks on vulnerable communities' ability to cope and secure their food security into the future, FAO is urging scaled-up investments in longer-term solutions, including more effective flood management programs.
Name: Will Swanson
Title: Senior Communication Specialist
Office: FAO Somalia
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