FLOODS AND RAINS UPDATE
Rainfall activities persisted in the second and third weeks of October inside Somalia and within the eastern Ethiopian highlands. The rains have replenished water sources leading to a reduction of water stress and boosted both pasture growth and crop cultivation. There has been an improvement in livestock body conditions and milk production as well. On the downside, the heavy rains have led to increased river levels along the Juba and Shabelle rivers inside Somalia surpassing the high-risk thresholds for flooding in areas of Belet Weyne and Jowhar along the Shabelle and Bardheere along the Juba. The high river levels have consequently led to overflows, causing floods in low-lying areas along the two rivers.
The worst affected areas along the Shabelle River include Belet Weyne in Hiraan and parts of Middle Shabelle where there has been destruction of property and inundation of farmlands. As of 22 October, the river level at Belet Weyne is at 7.8m which is about half a meter short of the full bank level. Over bank spillages from minor tributaries passing through Belet Weyne town have caused flooding leading to displacements of a significant number of households. The local authority and partners have started to evacuate vulnerable communities to higher grounds within Belet Weyne.
There has also been river flooding in the Ethiopian highlands about 20 Km north of Belet Weyne, and this flood wave is expected to reach Somalia over the next one to two days if rainfall continues, further exacerbating the flood risk inside Somalia. Observed river levels have remained high at Jowhar and Mahadey Weyne districts where large swathes of croplands have been damaged by floods. Existing river breakages (39 points identified and reported by SWALIM in September 2019) could lead to increased flooding if not urgently mitigated.
Dollow, Luuq, Bardheere and Buale districts in Gedo and Middle Juba Regions were also affected by river flooding along the Juba. Field reports indicate that four people lost their lives in Bardheere, and the floods have displaced an estimated 750 households; further, 250 livestock drowned, and the waters damaged about 1,200 farms.
In Bay and Bakool regions, flash floods destroyed cropland (sorghum, maize and cowpeas) that were at the seedling stage. Low lying areas of Gedo were also affected by flash floods over the last one week.
The rainfall forecast for the coming week shows a reduction of rainfall activities especially within the Ethiopian highlands. However, heavy rains are expected in Gedo, Bay and Bakool regions which may lead to flash floods in low-lying areas in these regions. The increasing trend of river levels is expected to continue in the coming week with flooding expected along the Shabelle and Juba rivers.
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations