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Somalia: Flooding displaces thousands from their homes amid COVID-19

12 May 2020


Flooding in Qardho, Puntland, Somalia, 27-28 April 2020. Credit: OCHA

More than half a million people – 546,103 – have been affected by flooding in Somalia following a sharp rise in the level of the Shabelle River due to heavy rains in the country and in the Ethiopian highlands.

About half of the affected people (216,895) have been displaced from their homes. Some 16 people have also died since the rains began in early April.

At least 27 districts are flooded, and the worst-hit area is Belet Weyne in Hiraan region, where riverine flooding has displaced more than 115,000 people, according to the district flood task force.

Infrastructure has also been damaged, and homes and farmland inundated. The risk of diseases including acute watery diarrhoea and cholera has also increased. On 9 May, 90 new cases of acute watery diarrhoea were reported in Doolow, Jubaland.

Moderate-to-high flood risk is likely to persist through mid-May, threatening urban populations and people living near rivers and other low-lying areas.

Somalia is also grappling with COVID-19, with more than 1,000 cases confirmed. The Government is working with humanitarian and health partners to contain the spread of the pandemic.

The country is also facing the worst desert locust infestation in 25 years, with new swarms reported in Somaliland, Puntland and Galmudug states.

Despite this triple threat, funding for humanitarian operations in Somalia remains very low.

As of 11 May, the revised 2020 Somalia Humanitarian Response Plan is only 16 per cent funded (US$200 million out of a requirement of more than $1.1 billion). 

Humanitarian partners and authorities are scaling up their responses and have reached 157,470 people with life-saving assistance across the country.