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Beledweyne: City where long awaited rains causing residents' sleepless nights


By Abdulkadir Khalif
Wednesday May 24, 2023


A man carries a sack through floodwater in Beledweyne, central Somalia, on May 14, 2023. Flash flooding in central Somalia has killed 22 people and affected over 450,000, the UN's humanitarian agency OCHA said, after the Shabelle River burst its banks, forcing tens of thousands out of their homes.

In mid April social media savvy individuals in Ethiopia’s Somali region started sharing clips of huge waters surpassing the banks of Shabelle River.  

“This level of water flow had never been witnessed or even heard of,” one of the shared clips illustrated, warning people in downstream, including the inhabitants of the towns and villages across the border in Somalia to remain vigilantes.  

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Soon, volumes of water streamed to parts of Beledweyne district as heavy rains fell in the highlands of Ethiopia.  

At the end of the second week of April, Ms Hawa Abdurahman, a single mother caring for an extensive family, fled from Ba’aad village, a Shabelle River-side village, about 17 km north of Beledweyne town due to flooding.  

“My entire family has ended up near Burdhinle settlement, where we cannot find food, water and shelter,” Hawa told Nation over the phone, illustrating that agro-pastoralists are prone to flooding.

“We lost our properties to river breaking its banks while over here we are hardly getting any water to drink,” he added.

 Hawa’s problem associated with scarcity of foods and water originated from the entre Horn of Africa region experiencing one of the most devastating dry spells for decades.

However, as the threats of water streaming towards Beledweyne town, Hiran region’s capital, 335 km north of the Somali capital Mogadishu, communities mobilised their resources to prevent the river easily breaking its banks.

For weeks, the level of Shabelle River continued rising, but barricades initially contained the waters.  

However, as more and more waters pour out from upstream in Ethiopia into Beledweyne town, water simply filled the four sections of the town just overnight on 9th of May.

Omar Osman Alasow, Beledweyne district commissioner led officials to inspect the extent of the flooding, splashing on his way to where entire neighbourhoods were isolated and cornered by the muddy waters.  

As Alasow is the eyes and ears of the regional authority, the state and the Federal Government of Somalia, he urged entire communities to pull themselves together to overcome the dilemma.  

The combination of drought and flooding put many Somali regional dwellers in precarious situation.

 It was a fact acknowledged by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who visited Mogadishu city and Baidoa town, 240 km southwest of the capital, in mid-April.  

Guterres minced no words while addressing the press alongside Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud that the drought and other calamities affecting the Horn of Africa country need international intervention and support.

Expressing sympathy for the people affected by the drought and floods, the secretary-general said, “I am also here to ring the alarm on the need of massive international support, massive international support because of the humanitarian difficulties the country is facing, massive humanitarian support in relation to the build-up of a security capacity of Somalia.”  

Stories to narrate
Hawa, a rural dweller, told Nation her story of struggling to move her extended family away from Ba’aad village, educators in Beledweyne town had their stories to narrate.  

Just ten days ago, Hassan Mohamud Hayow, the director of Umar bin Al Khattab School, a widely attended local educational facility, that the river waters ruins his educational facility.

“On 10th of May, we left the (Umar bin Al Khattab) school compound at around 5 in the evening, somehow suspecting that the rising river water levels could pose risk to the educational facility,” said Director Hayow.

 “Our fears were proven correct when in the middle of the night we were alerted of rapidly gushing waters filled the compound of the school,” said the director, adding that as time passed the waters found their way into the classrooms and offices.

He nearly cried when he noticed that the floods bust the school’s chairs, boards, walls, office cabinets and even the documents.  Hayow was contemplating on the possibilities of the pupils attending the examinations as all the facilities were devastated.  

“The school’s infrastructure including the toilet facilities have become part of the river,” he said, begging the leaders of Hirshabelle, one of the five Federal Member States, to realise the importance of restoring the educational facilities when the floods subside.  

The sequence of matters that occurred in and around Beledweyne town is an indication that the region is very susceptible to climate change as El Niño climate system has had its devastating drought effects and now La Niña with its downpours and floods, both causing gloom.

 The dry effects of El Niño have pushed the local communities and international aid agencies to struggle with scarcity of foods and water, trying to save as many lives as possible.

What worries the people is that drought, the deadliest since the one in 2011, is tremendously damaging and floods can multiply desolation as it adds to less crops and more displacement.

UN Secretary-General Guterres told the local media in Mogadishu about his determination to lure the international community to support the people in Somalia and across the Horn of Africa region, pointing finger at the way forward.

“We must address the root causes of (the predicament),” Guterres said, briefing to the media.  

The current flooding marked the third in a decade, Beledweyne appear placed between El Niño and La Niña climate systems, producing droughts and flooding are just intolerable.
calamities affecting the Horn of Africa country need international intervention and support.

Expressing sympathy for the people affected by the drought and floods, the secretary-general said, “I am also here to ring the alarm on the need of massive international support, massive international support because of the humanitarian difficulties the country is facing, massive humanitarian support in relation to the build-up of a security capacity of Somalia.”

Hawa, a rural dweller, told Nation her story of struggling to move her extended family away from Ba’aad village, educators in Beledweyne town had their stories to narrate.

Just ten days ago, Hassan Mohamud Hayow, the director of Umar bin Al Khattab School, a widely attended local educational facility, that the river waters ruins his educational facility.

“On 10th of May, we left the (Umar bin Al Khattab) school compound at around 5 in the evening, somehow suspecting that the rising river water levels could pose risk to the educational facility,” said Director Hayow.

“Our fears were proven correct when in the middle of the night we were alerted of rapidly gushing waters filled the compound of the school,” said the director, adding that as time passed the waters found their way into the classrooms and offices.

He nearly cried when he noticed that the floods bust the school’s chairs, boards, walls, office cabinets and even the documents.

Hayow was contemplating on the possibilities of the pupils attending the examinations as all the facilities were devastated.

“The school’s infrastructure including the toilet facilities have become part of the river,” he said, begging the leaders of Hirshabelle, one of the five Federal Member States, to realise the importance of restoring the educational facilities when the floods subside.

The sequence of matters that occurred in and around Beledweyne town is an indication that the region is very susceptible to climate change as El Niño climate system has had its devastating drought effects and now La Niña with its downpours and floods, both causing gloom.

The dry effects of El Niño have pushed the local communities and international aid agencies to struggle with scarcity of food and water, trying to save as many lives as possible.

What worries the people is that drought, the deadliest since the one in 2011, is tremendously damaging and floods can multiply desolation as it adds to less crops and more displacement.

Secretary-General Guterres told the local media in Mogadishu about his determination to lure the international community to support the people in Somalia and across the Horn of Africa region, pointing finger at the way forward.

“We must address the root causes of (the predicament),” Guterres said, briefing to the media.

The current flooding marked the third in a decade, Beledweyne appear placed between El Niño and La Niña climate systems, producing droughts and flooding are just intolerable.



 





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