After drought, floods compound Somalia's year of climate misery

After drought, floods compound Somalia's year of climate misery
After drought, floods compound Somalia's year of climate misery

We show you our most important and recent visitors news details After drought, floods compound Somalia's year of climate misery in the following article

Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - BELEDWEYNE, SOMALIA - As Somalia withered from drought early this year, and her goats dropped dead from thirst, Maka Abdi Ali begged for rain.

When the skies finally opened, nature was unmerciful.

Unrelenting downpours in October turned to flash floods, destroying her meager home and few remaining possessions, and washing away whatever harvest and bony animals farmers managed to save during the months without rain.

"I have nothing now," 67-year-old Ali told AFP in a squalid camp on the outskirts of Beledweyne in central Somalia.

Here, 180,000 people fled the fast-rising waters in the country's worst floods in memory.

The arid Horn of Africa country has always been hostage to climate extremes. Rain is erratic, and drought a feature of life.

But catastrophic weather events are occurring in Somalia with ever-greater fury and frequency, trapping millions in a near-constant cycle of crisis.

Little by little, the ability to recover is ground down, say experts.

There is no time to rebuild homes and replenish food stocks before another disaster strikes.

Impoverished and weakened by decades of war, battling an armed insurgency, Somalia is ill-equipped to cope with the destabilizing impact of double-tap environmental crises.

Aid budgets are stretched trying to respond to back-to-back emergencies.

In May, the United Nations launched a drought appeal, warning of looming starvation as Somalia faced its worst harvest on record.

Six months later, it's again appealing for help -- this time for $72.5 million for half a million victims of flood.

"There hasn't been a day this year where we haven't been talking about either drought or floods," Abigail Hartley, deputy head of office for the UN humanitarian agency OCHA in Somalia, told AFP.

Among those fleeing the inundation in Beledweyne, the epicenter of this disaster, were Somalis already on the run from other climate-stricken parts of the region.

"The drought forced us to flee... now we are displaced by floods," bemoaned Maryama Osman Abdi, who abandoned her bone-dry farmland for a new start in Beledweyne.

Now, her home in ruins, she contemplates her next move.

Many had migrated to the banks of the Shabelle River -- a lifeline which runs through Beledweyne -- seeking water to revive their livestock, and nurture their crops.

But the river burst its banks under the ceaseless barrage of rain.

The mighty flood that followed should in statistical terms occur only once in 50 years, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

But, the UN agency noted, the river overflowed in 2019, after 2018 and 2015.

"This was different from the others. I have never seen anything like it," Omar Dule, a 74-year-old who has spent his lifetime in Beledweyne, told AFP.

The FAO, bracing for the next overflow, is repairing embankments along the river long neglected by cash-strapped authorities.

Rainfall extremes in Somalia are forecast to intensify this century, even as the region overall dries considerably, said Linda Ogallo, from the Nairobi-based Intergovernmental Authority on Development Climate Prediction and Applications Center.

"Droughts and floods are increasing, in frequency and intensity," said Ogallo, a climate scientist who specializes in Somalia's weather patterns. -AFP

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