Somalia has recently seen the worst flooding it’s had in a century. Dozens of people have been killed, and 1.6 million people have been affected. Moreover, the flooding has cut off communities from essential healthcare as the prevalence of waterborne diseases increases. However, another devastating consequence is that the prices of staple goods has increased by 35%.
Somalia: soaring food costs due to flooding
According to Action Against Hunger, food prices soared in the first few weeks of Somalia’s flooding. The international charity’s Food Security and Livelihoods team confirms that common foods like rice, oil, sugar, and flour have increased by 35 per cent, and vegetable prices are also on the rise. The main road from Mogadishu was washed out by the floods, and many vehicles are reportedly stuck in the road.
As a result, many food supplies are not making it to the flooded towns – significant damage to crops, roads, homes, and other infrastructure is particularly affecting districts in Baidoa, Bardere, Luuq, and Galkacyo.
The soaring costs of goods is likely to exacerbate food insecurity across Somalia, a country that has been experiencing climate change-induced droughts that has already pushed millions of people into hunger. El Nino, the recurring weather phenomenon, is one of the reasons why this year’s rains are so heavy.
Families in Somalia, who recently suffered through a prolonged and severe drought, already had limited access to food, income, and other resources to survive before the floods. Now, the floods have made health services, schools, and markets difficult to reach. Agricultural lands that had dried out in years without rain washed away easily in the deluge. People have nothing left for themselves and their loved ones. 32 deaths have already resulted, impacting more than 1.6 million people, and displacing nearly half a million people from their homes.
‘We do not have food’
In Baidoa, Khadijo Ali Mohamed, a 28-year-old mother of four living in Gofgalol displacement camp, lost all of her belongings including food, mattresses, and kitchen tools. Action Against Hunger teams met her at the camp. It is home to more than 300 displaced people including pregnant women, children and the elderly. Compounding this crisis, her husband fell ill in the middle of the night.
“The fever was not subsiding and we had no way to take him to the hospital at that hour of the night. Even now, we do not have food,” said Khadijo Mohamed. She and other residents of the displacement camp have been forced to flee to other areas of the town. The rains kept falling, even after they washed away homes, vehicles, and – tragically – people.
Vulnerable displaced families are exposed to precarious circumstances, as they relocate to find higher ground – areas that may be dry, but where clean water is scarce and sanitation conditions are inadequate. Baidoa, in particular, is an area prone to waterborne diseases such as acute watery diarrhea. The floods aggravate this already challenging situation.
Vulnerable to disease
Action Against Hunger emergency officer, Ibrahim Abdirahman, warns that contaminated water poses a significant threat to public health, especially when it rains. “Waste picked up from all over the town by the flooding goes into wells, and this increases chances of infection,” explains Abdirahman, who also responded to the cholera emergency last year in Baidoa.
When it rains, mosquitoes often breed and malaria cases increase – this impacts vulnerable families and children under five years old.
As part of its emergency response, Action Against Hunger’s team has begun to decontaminate water points, in addition to providing water treatment tablets, distributing hygiene supplies, and educating people on the importance of good hygiene practices to prevent disease outbreaks in the communities.
Somalia: more rain forecast
Action Against Hunger Somalia has also secured a £4m bilateral grant from the British Embassy in Mogadishu. The grant, which is set to run for six months, will help provide crucial life-saving support in health, nutrition and WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) to close to one million vulnerable Somalis impacted by the adverse effects of El Niño in South Central Somalia.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the upcoming days are expected to bring even more rain to communities across Somalia. Action Against Hunger warns that needs are likely to increase.
As heavy rain could continue to fall in Somalia, Action Against Hunger’s health teams are visiting communities and providing critical support. In addition, the organisation is providing emergency cash assistance for the most vulnerable families, so they can buy food, medicine, and other essential supplies.
Featured image via BBC News Africa – YouTube
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