Somalia: UN boosts El Niño preparedness and relief, urges more funding

An aerial view of flooding in and around Jowhar town, Somalia, in November 2013. AU UN IST Photo / Tobin Jones



Efforts have been ramped up recently to mitigate the impact of floods and droughts in Somalia driven by the El Niño phenomenon between now and December, which may worsen the food security and humanitarian situations, the United Nations has said, while stressing the urgent need for more financial support to continue its relief work in the country.

“Humanitarian partners have developed contingency plans and are scaling up preparedness activities,” said Peter de Clercq, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Somalia, adding that these operations include “pre-positioning aid supplies and boats in areas most likely to be affected by flooding.”

El Niño could cause devastating effects in Somalia, such as heavy rains and flooding along Juba and Shabelle rivers, flash floods in central Somalia and Puntland, and worsening droughts in parts of Somaliland, which will put over 600,000 people at risk, according to the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

These impacts, however, might be severe for the vulnerable communities already facing dire humanitarian situations in Somalia. Over 3 million people need humanitarian assistance, 1.1 million of whom are internally displaced.

“Since communities in the flood-prone areas will be the first to respond, partners are working with local authorities and community leadership to strengthen local response capacity, reinforce river embankments and raise awareness, including through distribution of climate monitoring information,” said Mr. de Clercq.

“An initial $30 million is required to strengthen preparedness and kick start immediate response in 2015,” said a news release issued by OCHA Somalia office, while citing some received donations for the contingency plan as aid agencies continue to monitor the situation.

Previous El Niño events have caused massive flooding in Somalia. Some 900,000 people were affected in 1997-98 and over 440,000 people were affected in 2006-7. The effects this year could extend several months into 2016.


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