Somalia: Dozens Killed, Half a Million Displaced By Floods

Heavy rains have caused flash floods in Somalia, displacing half a million people and killing more than 30. The combined effects of two climatic phenomena, El Niño and the Indian Ocean Dipole, exacerbated the situation.

At least 31 people have died in floods caused by heavy rains in Somalia, Information Minister Daud Aweis said on Sunday.

Some 500,000 people have also been forced to flee their flooded homes. Aweis said another 1.2 million people could be affected by the disaster and the death toll may rise.

Since the beginning of November, Somalia has been battered by relentless rains, with torrents of water flooding homes and farmland.

The greatest damage was reported in the Gedo region in the south and the Hiran region in the center of the country, where the Shabelle River burst its banks and washed away houses in the town of Beledweyne.

What caused the flooding?

The UN humanitarian agency, OCHA, said last week that the country was facing “once-in-a-century flooding” and warned that 1.6 million people could be affected.

According to OCHA, the situation had been exacerbated by the combined effects of two climate phenomena, El Nino and the Indian Ocean Dipole — a climate system defined by the difference in sea surface temperature between the western and eastern parts of the ocean.

El Nino typically brings increased global heat, drought in some parts of the world, and heavy rainfall elsewhere.

“The impact of the flooding is much worse because the soil is so damaged from an unprecedented recent drought – years of

conflict and al Shabaab militia’s presence also makes building flood defenses and resilience more complex and costly,” Nazanine Moshiri, a climate analyst at the International Crisis Group, said.

The flooding is also affecting neighboring Kenya, where the death toll stood at 15 on Monday, according to the Kenya Red Cross. The rains also claimed the lives of more than 20 people in Ethiopia’s Somali region.

The Horn of Africa is one of the regions considered to be the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and extreme weather, despite the region’s contribution to carbon emissions — the main driver of climate change — being negligible.