HotSpots H2O: Flash Floods Strike Eastern Africa, Displacing 370,000 People

Flooding in Beletweyne, Somalia. Photo courtesy of AMISOM Public Information/Flickr.

Intense flooding hit several nations in eastern Africa recently, including Somalia, Kenya, and South Sudan. The deluges have affected more than a million people in the region. 

As of November 5, UNICEF estimates that 547,000 people have been impacted by flooding in Somalia, including 200,000 children. In all, about 370,000 Somalis have fled their homes. Many are living in temporary camps, where clean water, food, and medicine are in short supply. 

The floods have damaged infrastructure and slowed transportation. They also disrupted 86 schools in Beledweyne City and surrounding regions of central Somalia. At least 17 people have been killed. 

UNICEF cautions that urgent humanitarian action is needed in order to combat malnutrition and disease, especially among children.  

“Children are very vulnerable in times of emergency. If we do not act decisively, the impact of these floods will be felt in Somalia long after the water levels recede,” UNICEF Somalia Representative Werner Schultink said last week

Somalia isn’t the only nation being deluged by floods. South Sudan has been grappling with heavy rainfall for several months, with a third of the nation’s counties and more than 908,000 people affected since July. Of these, an estimated 620,000 require immediate humanitarian assistance. 

“There is a real emergency unfolding in Pibor and many other areas,” warned Alain Noudéhou, coordinator of the UN’s humanitarian agency in South Sudan. “Clinics, schools, churches and police stations are under water. Entire communities are displaced, and if the waters continue to rise, they will be displaced again.” 

Aid agencies say $61.5 million in funding is needed to address the ongoing flooding and recovery in South Sudan. The government declared a state of emergency in affected areas on October 27. 

Since mid-October, heavy precipitation has also struck several parts of Kenya, causing flash floods, mudslides, and landslides. The Kenya Red Cross Society estimates that 144,000 people have been affected, with 17,000 displaced. Forty-eight deaths, so far, have been reported as a result of the flooding in Kenya. 

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