Malaria and malnutrition stalk central Somalia as more families flee floods

13 November 2019
Source: Islamic Relief
Country: Somalia
Thousands more families are at risk of being displaced as heavy rains continue to pummel many parts of Somalia, with bad weather forecast to last throughout November, Islamic Relief warns.

Weeks of heavy rain in Somalia spark fears of malaria and malnutrition as more than a quarter of a million people displaced in a few days.

Thousands more families are at risk of being displaced as heavy rains continue to pummel many parts of Somalia, with bad weather forecast to last throughout much of November, Islamic Relief has warned.

The rains, caused by heavy than usual seasonal Deyer rains that fall in the last few months of the year, have already spread devastation throughout much of central Somalia, sparking deadly flash floods, submerging whole neighbourhoods and destroying vital infrastructure.

With the flood waters slow to recede, diseases like malaria and diarrhoea are already on the rise.

Dire conditions in Beledweyne, central Somalia

Since the heavy rain started, more than 270,000 people from Beledweyne in central Somalia have been displaced, and at least twenty have died, although the real figure could be much higher.

The vast majority – 230,000 of the displaced – have been forced to take refuge on a small piece of land in Beledweyne. Conditions here are terrible, with aid slow to arrive due to the rain and widespread shortages of food, water and medicine, which aid organisations unsure how they will handle an additional influx of people.

Islamic Relief was one of the first few first organisations to reach those affected, with our teams forced to hitch rides on tractors as many of the roads had washed away.

Ibrahim Abdi, Islamic Relief’s Emergency project officer in Somalia, said:

“The situation is dire and only getting worse. The water level is so high right now that one cannot tell the difference between the river and the land anymore.

”Because the floods came so quickly we did not know how to respond and could not retrieve them for hours and even days. Homes and farms have been completely destroyed.

“The rain is still falling, and if it continues to rain this week, I think we will see even more people try to flee to the already congested areas of high ground where almost a quarter of a million people have already taken refuge.

“There is no clean water, not enough food or medicine, and the tents are made of ripped and inadequate fabric that simply doesn’t keep the rain out. People also don’t have proper clothes or shoes to keep dry, and diseases like malaria and diarrhoea are already spiking. Even our teams are falling sick as they try to respond to the crisis.”

Islamic Relief is providing lifesaving aid to thousands

Islamic Relief is working hard to stop the spread of diseases by providing clean water and adequate sanitation to thousands of those who have been displaced. We are also providing tents to protect people from the rain and distributing food packs to families.

Shahin Ashraf, Islamic Relief’s Global Head of Advocacy, said:

“The weather forecast is only set to get worse, and we fear the incoming storm will shut the airport, currently the only safe means of aid delivery. If that happens, we may have to use the roads which are simply not safe and can be dangerous for aid workers.

“The general uncertainty caused by extreme weather is increasing all of the time. After months and months of no rain, where crops and cattle died, we suddenly saw several months’ worth of rain in just a few days. The barren soil simply can’t absorb this much rain, causing violent flash floods that can engulf whole neighbourhoods in minutes.

“This is a consequence of climate change and the world’s poorest, who are the least responsible for it, are being hit the hardest. In the ceaseless cycle of drought and flood, they not only lose everything but are left in a position where they cannot rebuild.

“We are committed to helping millions of people get back on their feet and adapt and we pride ourselves on staying in these communities even after the immediate disaster recedes as our experience has sadly taught us that fresh crises are all too just around the corner in this part of the world.”