ReutersSomalis who fled the storm at a reception camp
NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 20:22
Heavy rains and flooding in the Horn of Africa have displaced more than two million people. This is reported by the AFP news agency based on figures from the United Nations and national governments.
A few months ago, countries in eastern Africa were dealing with the worst drought in decades. Now the region has been struggling with heavy rains, floods and mudslides since October. Nearly 300 people have already been killed by the storms in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. Aid agencies say massive floods like this only happen once every 100 years in this region.
The heavy rain is partly caused by the El Niño weather phenomenon. And due to deforestation and the severe drought in recent years, the soil does not retain water and all rain flows to low-lying areas.
Streets are flooded and several rivers have burst their banks. Infrastructure, such as bridges and roads, has also been destroyed. This makes it difficult to get aid and goods to the affected areas. In Kenya, many people are without food, medicine and fuel and the army is being deployed to distribute food by air.
People hold on to plants as they walk through flooded areas in Kenya
Flooded streets and houses in Somalia
A tent camp for refugee Kenyans, right next to a flooded area
Somalia’s president says his country is in a “critical condition”. More than a million people have been displaced, he said. Authorities in the capital Mogadishu declared a state of emergency on November 12.
The UN and a Somali disaster management agency said in a press release that heavy rains and flooding will inundate at least 1.5 million hectares of agricultural land through December. There is also a warning about diseases, because stagnant water is a breeding ground for bacteria and mosquitoes.
There are also major concerns about insect infestation. After the last period of heavy rain in the Horn of Africa, the region suffered a major locust plague. Billions of locusts moved in swarms, sometimes as large as the province of Flevoland, wreaking havoc on hundreds of thousands of hectares of crops. Today’s extreme rainfall is once again creating ideal conditions for locusts to reproduce.
Such a locust plague can endanger the food supply. A swarm of one square kilometer eats as much as 35,000 people in one day, the UN stated during the previous locust plague in Africa:
Locust plague in East Africa: ‘Swarms eat as much as 80 million people’
During the climate summit in Dubai, the president of Somalia sounded the alarm. “We seem to be talking about climate change as a future threat. But Somalia is on the front lines of the devastating effects of global warming. It is a reality we are already living with,” he said in a speech.
Yesterday, all countries at COP28 agreed to the setting up of a climate damage fund. Mainly poorer countries can receive money from this if they are hit by floods or other disasters made worse by climate change. The Netherlands has provisionally pledged 15 million euros to the fund.
The UN has also made emergency aid available for the flooded areas in eastern Africa, but it is expected that more is needed. Experts believe that the heavy rains in the region could continue for several months.