Devastating floods as a result of continuous torrential downpours have claimed the lives of at least 31 people in several parts of Somalia, according to authorities. The floods have also killed 15 people in Kenya as of Monday, as per the Kenyan Red Cross.
Since October, floods have displaced nearly half a million people and disrupted the lives of over 1.2 million people, Somalia’s Minister of Information Daud Aweis told reporters in the capital Mogadishu on Sunday. They have also caused extensive damage to civilian infrastructure notably in the Gedo region of southern Somalia.
Meanwhile in Kenya, the port city of Mombasa and the northeastern counties of Mandera and Wajir are the worst affected.
‘Once in 100 years’: UN
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has given $25 million to help mitigate the impact of floods in African countries and has warned that this was “a flood event of a magnitude statistically likely only once in 100 years” with possibly dire humanitarian impacts.
“While all possible preparatory measures are being pursued, a flood of this magnitude can only be mitigated and not prevented,” OCHA said, recommending “early warning and early action” to save lives as “large-scale displacement, increased humanitarian needs and further destruction of property remain likely.
The lives of some 1.6 million people in Somalia could be disrupted by floods during the rainy season that lasts until December, with 1.5 million hectares of farmland potentially being destroyed, added the UN organisation.
The heavy rains followed four consecutive years of drought that pushed Somalia to the brink of famine. Mogadishu has been ravaged by downpours that, at times, swept away vulnerable people, including children and the elderly, and disrupted transportation.
In Kenya, weather forecasters started warning in September that rains would be heavier than usual during the short rainy season between October and December. However, President William Ruto contradicted the forecast, telling Kenyans that the experts had revised their advice and that “there would be no devastating El Nino flooding”.
Floods in Cameroon
Floods have also struck another Central African country, Cameroon. Its capital city, Yaoundé, was hit by devastating floods triggered by heavy rainfall, resulting in at least 27 fatalities and over 50 injuries.
Cameroon’s Territorial Administration Minister, Paul Atanga Ngi, visited the disaster site and confirmed the death toll, expressing condolences on behalf of President Paul Biya to the grieving families. He also assured that all the injured individuals would receive free medical treatment.
In recent years, Cameroon has experienced recurrent flooding, often attributed to climate change, exacerbated by substandard construction practices that frequently disregard regulations. The situation was further aggravated in this instance when a manmade lake’s dike collapsed, sending structures cascading down the hill.
(with inputs from AP)