Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Floods displace thousands, destroy farms in Somalia

IRIN: Thousands of people have been left homeless following continued flooding in parts of Somalia’s Middle Shabelle region over the past couple of months, with large tracts of farmland being inundated, raising fears of livelihood losses.

The Shabelle River floods started in late August in and around the Middle Shabelle town of Jowhar, according to an update by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), due to rains in the Ethiopian highlands. Subsequent flooding has since left an estimated 11,000 households - about 66,000 people, spread over 33 villages - affected by localized flooding in Middle Shabelle’s Jowhar District, according to a 4 December OCHA update.

Some 8,000 hectares of land have also been inundated in the districts of Balcad and Jowhar....The Middle Shabelle region, through which the permanent River Shabelle runs, is part of Somalia’s bread basket.  The flood waters have also cut off road access in some parts.

“Residents have to use small makeshift boats for 6km, then they are dropped in waist-deep water, from where they wade for about the same distance to reach a temporary bus stop outside the city,” Abdikarin Alos, a local journalist, told IRIN.

There are also concerns over the outbreak of diseases. Jowhar resident Abdullahi Hassan told IRIN that malaria has been a major problem due to the floods, with cases of diarrhoea reported amid fears of malnutrition. “There is a need to prevent the situation from developing into a major crisis,” he said...

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