East Africans already coping with a humanitarian crisis are hit by El Niño rains; Oxfam is responding with partners to assist people affected by floods.
Humanitarian organizations working in East Africa are forecasting heavy and destructive precipitation as the region veers from severe drought to El Niño-induced flooding in late 2023. In Somalia alone, they estimate that 1.6 million people living in low-lying areas near rivers could be affected.
Somalia has already experienced serious flooding. In one week in November, areas of Somalia saw 300 millimeters (nearly one foot) of rain, roughly equal to the normal amount of rainfall during the entire October-to-December rainy season.
Halima Hassan, a mother of six from Daynille, Somalia, is now displaced for the second time in a year. “I lost my home, livestock, nearly everything I had to the drought," she said. "My family had to relocate to this site for displaced people where we had just started to rebuild our lives -- but now comes the flood. The little I had left is gone, my makeshift camp, my six goats. I don’t know what my family will eat next, let alone where they will sleep.”
Regional flooding crisis in East Africa
In Somalia, the Juba and Shabelle rivers have burst their banks, washing away homes, farms and livestock as well as bridges and other infrastructure. To date over 1.24 million people are affected by the floods, 456,800 people have been displaced, and 50 killed. Heavy rains have intensified in the Puntland, Galmudug, Southwest, Hirshabelle, and Jubaland states with further flash flooding anticipated in the coming days and weeks.
Somalia is one of the most vulnerable countries to #climatechange. Following years of #drought, thousands of families are now experiencing heavy flooding which has displaced thousands@OxfamInSOM & partners are racing against time to provide lifesaving assistance #SomaliaFloods pic.twitter.com/2P0EH6yr9d— Oxfam in Africa (@OxfaminAfrica) November 9, 2023
In Kenya, Oxfam’s partners report flooding has displaced more than 15,000 families from their homes, decimated hundreds of acres of farmland, and killed at least 15 people and 1,000 livestock.
In Ethiopia’s Somali Region, 19 wards have been affected by floods which have killed 20 people, and displaced more than 35,000. More than 108,000 others are coping with effects of flooding, including damaged homes and schools and dead livestock.
More rain is in the forecast in November and December. The heavy rains are expected to damage homes, community infrastructure, and crops. Standing water contaminated by damaged sanitation systems and limited access to hygiene items will increase the risk of disease outbreaks.
How Oxfam is helping people hit by floods in Somalia
Oxfam is responding to flooding in four of the hardest-hit states of Somalia, by working directly with seven non-governmental partners to reach 107,500 people. Together, they plan to assist people with:
- Emergency water supply: Delivery by truck, repair of water treatment systems, and cash.
- Sanitation: repair of sanitation systems like latrines, desludging, and construction of new flood-resistant latrines.
- Hygiene: distribution of hygiene items including menstrual products (or where possible, cash to purchase items), promotion of good hygiene to reduce threat of water-borne diseases.
- Measures to monitor and reduce the risk of gender violence: information on where to find help for survivors, and support for committees working to prevent, mitigate, and respond to violence.
- Food assistance: cash, and cash-for-work projects to help people buy food.
Oxfam is working in Somalia with Centre for Peace and Democracy, Gargaar Relief Development Organization, KAALO Aid and Development Organization, Save Somali Women and Children, Social-Life and Agricultural Development Organization, Wajir South Development Association, and ZamZam Foundation. By mid-November, Oxfam has already assisted 6,200 flood-affected people in Puntland and 10,248 people in South West state.