Somalia has transitioned from its worst drought in decades to facing its most severe floods, resulting in a tragic loss of life and widespread displacement in November. The deluge, which has claimed at least 29 lives and forced over 300,000 from their homes, represents a new extreme for the Horn of Africa nation, according to the Somalia National Disaster Management Agency (SoDMA).
The torrential rains in Somalia have left a trail of destruction, with the city of Baidoa experiencing an inundation that local elders like Mohamed Farah describe as unprecedented. The United Nations reports that entire communities, such as Luuq town, have been cut off by the floodwaters, with over 2,400 individuals isolated after the Jubba River overflowed.
The situation is dire, with internally displaced persons like Fadumo Abdulkadir expressing fear and uncertainty, saying, “Our makeshift shelters are washing away. Children are missing now. We don’t know whether they are dead or alive.”
The floods have not only razed homes in Somalia but have also uprooted families, many of whom were already vulnerable due to the recent drought that claimed tens of thousands of lives.
This environmental disaster is symptomatic of a larger crisis affecting the region, with neighboring countries Kenya and Ethiopia also battling similar conditions. Experts link the flooding to climate patterns such as El Niño and the Indian Ocean Dipole, exacerbated by the broader issue of climate change. The soil, already parched and damaged from the drought, has been unable to absorb the sudden influx of water, compounding the devastation in Somalia.
Climate analysts like Nazanine Moshiri and UN advisors such as Christophe Hodder emphasize that without concerted global climate action, the cycle of extreme weather events will persist, with the Horn of Africa being particularly vulnerable. The current floods serve as a stark reminder of the immediate and unpredictable challenges posed by climate change.
As Somalia contends with the aftermath of this catastrophe, the focus is on emergency response and humanitarian aid. However, the long-term challenge remains: building resilience and preparing for a future where such extremes may become the norm rather than the exception.