Six thousand families in Dolow district in southern Somalia’s Gedo region have been displaced by the flooding of the Juba and Dawa rivers, which burst their banks late last week.
Abdiqani Hassan Umiye, a spokesperson for the district disaster committee that conducted a rapid assessment of the flood damage, told Radio Ergo that crops on a total of 1,230 farms had been destroyed and irrigation pumps swept away by the water. The main road that links Dolow and Beled Hawo has also been cut off.
Many of the displaced families are in urgent need of assistance, he said, having lost all their belongings. Some have sheltered with relatives in the town, while others have sought help at a nearby IDP camp.
He advised people in the district to stay away from low-lying areas near the two rivers, as water levels are continuing to rise and flood over.
The worst flooding occurred on 11 April, when large areas in both Dolow and Dolo Addo on the Ethiopian side of the border came under water. Families in Elasha-biyaha, Dhagahley and Garbolow in Dolow, and Jiqley and Hafad-kowad in Dolo Addo in Ethiopia were forced to leave their homes. The floods have also destroyed business establishments in the area.
Some people who were not able to get out early enough are now feeling trapped. Among them is Sadiyo Hassan, a 37-year-old mother of seven, who told Radio Ergo that she is still in Garbolow, one of the flooded areas.
“We’re in danger. The waters are inside our home, our beds are submerged, and we’ve been holding the babies on our backs. The latrines have been destroyed, so we can’t use them. There is nowhere safe for us,” Sadiyo said.
Bashir Mohamed Adan, a father of nine who was displaced from Dhagahley area, told Radio Ergo that he had no choice but to move his family to the Qansahley IDP camp on the outskirts of town.
“There was no other place for us to shelter from this rain and cold conditions,” he said.
The idle wheelbarrow, which he used to ferry goods across the bridge to Dolo Ado before the border was closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, came in handy. He used it to rescue his family from the rushing waters.
Aside from the distraught families, many farmers are counting the costs and reeling from the losses caused by the floods.
Ali Ahmed Osman, head of the Dawo farmers’ cooperative, told Radio Ergo that the floods had destroyed crops on 200 farms and washed away expensive assets like irrigation pumps.
“In past years we had biting droughts, then came the locust swarms, and now this flooding. There is no farm that has survived this calamity,” he said.
Hussein Nur Barre, a store owner and father of six, told the radio that stocks in his store worth $4,000 have all been destroyed.
“The floods have swept away everything I had in my store as well as in my house. Everyone is fleeing,” he said despondently.