Belet Weyne, 1 August 2023 – Somalia is grappling with the consequences of a prolonged drought, the longest in the country’s recent history. Since the end of 2021, the drought has pushed more than 1.5 million people out of their homes, caused a devastating food crisis, and killed thousands of livestock.
This year’s Gu rainy season, spanning from late March to June, was anticipated to bring some respite to millions struggling to survive the water scarcity crisis. But while the rains did offer relief to pastoralists by replenishing groundwater sources and regenerating vegetation, they also brought new challenges for communities. Due to the soil's inability to absorb the water after the prolonged drought, the long-awaited rains quickly transformed into devastating flash floods, some of which reached unprecedented magnitudes.
Since March this year, the floods have affected 468,000 people and displaced more than 419,000. The majority of those displaced lived in Belet Weyne, a town in the central Hirshabelle State of Somalia, where the Shabelle River burst its banks in early May.
This year’s El Niño phenomenon, which causes specific regional weather extremes, has heightened concerns. Climate experts predict further flooding that could exacerbate communities’ dire situation. The combined efforts of humanitarian organizations and local authorities are crucial in supporting communities to prepare and mitigate the potential impact of future natural hazards.
Written by Claudia Rosel and Muthoni Njenga / IOM Somalia