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News: Heavy flood kills seven in drought ravaged Dawa zone, Somali region, displaces IDPs reeling from drought

Goats that sustained the drought but killed by the flood, IDP settlements drowned again displacing drought victims in Dawa (Picture – Residents)

By Medihane Ekubamichael @Medihane

Addis Abeba – Another disaster has claimed the lives of seven people after a long-awaited rain in the drought hit districts of Dawa zone, Somali region caused a devastating flood. A heavy rain between March 20 to 23 in all the four districts of the zone turned into heavy flooding that affected more than 4500 households and forced half of them to be displaced from their settlements, a local official told Addis Standard.

Hassan Mohamod, Hudet District Disaster Risk Management (DRM) coordinator from the very scene, told Addis Standard that the death toll has reached 7 so far while thousands are forced to be displaced even from the former drought response IDP camps. According to Hassan four are dead in Booji and one in Hilaal kebeles of Kadaduma district, while one in El Gof kebele of Moyale woreda and another one in Hudet district 03 kebele.

The heavy flood that has seriously impacted the communities who have already been reeling by the prolonged drought additionally killed 4215 livestock, destroyed more than 2000 quintals of different food items, 660 houses, toilets, and kebele and zonal administration office have been damaged in different districts, while 33 ponds have been over flooded in Kadaduma district alone.

Addis Standard learned that there has been no emergency response to address the incident and food, shelter and water treatment chemicals are needed to reach affected people.

The heavy rain that came following the onset of the autumn precipitation started to drop around mid of March causing a rushing and sudden flow of rivers that were completely dried out for a very long time especially over the past four years.

Men climbed up on a tree escape flooding until help arrives in Lehey kebele, Moyale woreda (center) – Picture: Hassan Mohamed

Aden, a resident in El Gofa kebele confirmed to Addis Standard  that the rain has flooded the IDPs’ plastic shelters pushing the settlers to nearby high ground.

Ali Ibrahim, resident in Moyale and concerned citizen who has closely witnessed the drought and the current flooding incidents shared his concern that the zone’s poor infrastructure development, especially in terms of lack of proper road construction into different kebeles throughout the Dawa zone, could complicate efforts to reach affected people.

In the adjacent Borena zone of the Oromia regional state the flooding has also ruined livelihoods causing the death of hundreds of livestock. A resident in Dhaas district of the zone told the BBC’s Afaan Oromoo service that he lost 63 goats to the flooding last week. Local officials are yet to determine the overall damage caused by the flooding in the zone.

Meanwhile, last week, the Ethiopian Meteorological Institute had announced that the drought and flood disasters that are occurring in various areas in Ethiopia may continue to worsen in the coming weeks.

As attested by the Deputy Director General of the Ethiopian Meteorological Institute, Kenfe Hailemariam, in his opening speech at the 62nd International Meteorology Day celebrated in Ethiopia for the 42nd times; studies conducted by the institute show that drought and flood disasters will continue to intensify in the country. He said that in order to deal with the danger, a strong weather monitoring, forecasting and early warning system should be built and updated.

He also indicated the institution’s effort towards working diligently to protect the society from disasters by conducting monitoring and research to reduce the risks of climate disturbances expected to occur in different areas of Ethiopia, such as floods, droughts, etc. He pointed out that climate change is predicted to occur in all continents in the next ten years, adding that intensified heat waves, extended hot spells, and cold spells are predicted.

About a week ago, various people, including woreda officials and people settling at IDP camps expressed their fear to Addis Standard indicating that their plastic shelters are very difficult to live in [both during sunny and rainy days], and if the then sign of rain is to hold, the shelters were not going to withstand. 

In another related development, by the end of last week, a cholera outbreak was reported where five were dead in Moyale town, and nearby districts sharing the border with Kenya. The town’s health bureau official expressed concern that the outbreak could be exacerbated by the current rainfall. AS

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