A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
Flooding from the overflowing Shabelle River left more than 10 people dead in the town of Beletweyne at the end of September. Other reports put the death toll as high as 55, with many still missing. More than 8,000 families have been displaced by the flooding, which took place in Somalia’s central region of Hiraan.
“This is bad news for the people of Beletweyne,” said Mohamed Moallim of Oxfam local partner HARDO (Humanitarian Action for Relief and Development Organization). “Heavy rains with river flooding left many people dead, including nine beneficiaries of our ongoing nutrition project at the Nasiib camp for displaced persons.”
Beletweyne received 188mm of rain in only a 24 hour period, according to SWALIM (Somalia Water and Land Information Management). Although Somalia is known for frequent droughts, the disaster prone country also suffers from occasional flooding. Added to this, with El Nino conditions predicted, flooding could get more severe over the coming months.Many families already displaced from other regions have lost their shelters from the flooding.
In partnership with HARDO, we are supporting a nutrition project in Nasiib. Oxfam extends its condolences to the families of those children who lost their lives in the flooding. The program which began in April this year, has admitted more than 1,700 malnourished children.
“At the moment our staff are assessing the damage from the floods,” said Mohamed of HARDO. On behalf of the people of Beletweyne, HARDO has issued an urgent plea for help to all concerned agencies and organizations, to immediately provide the necessary aid in order save lives and prevent human suffering. Oxfam remains committed to helping families in the region, as it has begun planning with HARDO on how to respond to this new flooding crisis.
With this new disaster, Oxfam is planning to help those families affected by the flooding with support for food security, livelihood support, as well as clean water and sanitation projects. Working together with HARDO, planning is underway to bring this aid to Beletweyne as soon as possible.
More than 4,000 herd animals have been lost, including 1,500 goats that were earmarked for export. The dead animals and muddy waters have raised the risk for waterborne disease in the area.
Our new survey of people across 40 regions of Somalia has found that water and food shortages are at critical levels and likely to deteriorate in parts of the country over the coming months, risking a prolonged humanitarian crisis well into next year.
More on Oxfam's work in Somalia