Nairobi (ICRC) – A tropical storm and flooding that hit parts of Somalia on 10 November have had catastrophic consequences for thousands of people, mainly in northern Puntland, and Middle Shabelle in the south. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Somali Red Crescent are responding to the most urgent needs on the ground.
“A lot of people in these areas are in dire need,” said Patrick Vial, head of the ICRC delegation in Somalia. “Reports reaching our staff in the field speak of dozens of dead and the loss of significant numbers of livestock.”
In Puntland, access to the affected areas remains extremely difficult owing to the impact of the storm on the road network. The worst-affected area is a triangular zone of some 300 square km between Bender Bayla and Eyl on the coast and the town of Dungayaro in the interior. So far, about 1,000 households (6,000 people) have received one-month food rations and other essential items.
“The long-term effect of this cyclone on the population is also likely to be severe”, said Vial. “Many of the worst-affected people are nomads and pastoralists, who rely on their animals for both food and trade. The ultimate extent of the damage is still not clear, as we have yet to see all the areas hit by this disaster”.
Similar acute, long-term adversity is being faced by the population of Middle Shabelle, where villages and farms in the flood’s path have been submerged. Those worst hit by the disaster are in and around the town of Jowhar, to which access is also proving difficult owing to roads being washed out.
The floods have not only forced some 10,000 families to flee their homes, contaminated many of the local drinking-water wells and thus created a high risk of disease, they have also ruined any chance of a harvest for many local farmers.
To limit the scale of the disaster, the ICRC and the Somali Red Crescent are striving to strengthen the river banks in order to contain some of the flooding. Emergency aid for more than 4,000 families (about 26,000 people) has arrived and will be distributed in coming days. The two organizations will continue aiding the victims with the seed and farming tools they will need to restore their livelihoods once the floods recede.
Twenty-two years of ongoing conflict and recurrent natural disaster have sorely tried Somalia’s population, which therefore has an already severely weakened ability to face both the emergencies themselves and to recover from the long-term economic impact. The ICRC and the Somali Red Crescent will go on supporting the disaster-struck population with emergency aid as well as working to help it recover its self-sufficiency once the emergency is over.