Water trucks assisting people in Somalia impacted by the Shabelle River floods.

The Shabelle River floods, Beledweyne, Somalia, October 2019. Save the Children was one of the first international agencies to respond the crisis in Beledweyne, near the Ethiopia border in Somalia. Credit: Saddam Carab / Save the Children.

Extreme Flooding Batters Somalia, Forcing at least 100,000 Children from Their Homes

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (Oct. 31, 2019)—At least 200,000 people—including at least 100,000 children[1] —have been forced to flee their homes in the town of Beledweyne following heavy rains that continue to fall across Hiraan and Bakool regions of central Somalia.

Save the Children teams on the ground are reporting whole neighborhoods are now underwater, with families escaping on tractors, via donkey cart, on boats, and on foot. Tens of thousands of families are now living in makeshift camps on higher ground in the surrounding areas in dire need of food, water, and other basic necessities.

Nearly 85 percent of the residents of Beledweyne, normally home to nearly 400,000 people, have been affected by the floods, according to the Somali government. According to the government, the situation has spread to other areas, including Bardale, where flash floods due to heavy rains have affected at least 30,000 people. More rains are predicted in the coming days, with warnings that floods will continue or worsen in Beledweyne and surrounding regions.

The main hospital in Bardale is currently out of action due to the floods, prompting fears that communities may be unprepared for an outbreak of diseases such as malaria and cholera amongst children. Save the Children has deployed mobile health teams and established an integrated health and nutrition center in affected areas to screen children for illnesses and provide nutrition and medical support to displaced communities.

Tropical Storm Kyarr is also expected to make landfall in Puntland and Somaliland before the weekend, with strong winds, rains, and possible flash flooding[2]. Save the Children is monitoring the storm’s progress and preparing to scale up its response.

The government of Somalia has appealed to humanitarian actors for support to address the current crisis in Beledweyne and surrounding areas by increasing resources and services to affected communities.

“Somalia is on the front line of the climate crisis and resources are being stretched to their limits. The worsening situation in Beledweyne and Bardale highlights just how vulnerable communities are,” said Mohamud Mohamed Hassan, Save the Children Somalia Country Director. “Save the Children was one of the first international NGOs on the ground, providing support to children and families as they try to survive the harsh conditions. Most of our staff in the region are also displaced, with their homes also destroyed by the floods, but they are working tirelessly to save lives and keep families healthy, but we’re worried that things will get worse, quickly.

“The current needs are huge and we’re in danger of being overwhelmed if donors don’t step up urgently. Right now, our main concern is the potential health crisis, including cholera and malaria outbreaks, which are devastating diseases for children. With the main hospital out of action and sanitation systems severely compromised, this is a recipe for disaster.”

Save the Children and its partners have been supporting affected children and their families in Hiraan and Bakool regions  by providing clean water, distributing food and hygiene kits, and installing over 200 temporary latrines.

[1] Demographics of Somalia
[2] Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations 'Tropical Storm Alert'

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