Shabelle River Flood Update Issued 29 May 2023

Flood Alert
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After the continuous steady rise in its levels at Bulo Burte, the Shabelle River reached its bankful height on Thursday 26th May 2023. On the same day, 58.0 mm of rainfall was received at Bulo Burte station. Subsequent flooding was reported in four villages: Indha Ceel, Bagabeeso, Wadajir and Hagi Buube. The overbank flood water also hindered access in and out of Bulo Burte via the bridge. Downstream in Jalalaqsi, flooding was also reported in Wadajir Horseed, Howl Wadaq and Gumarey on the 27th May 2023). Access through the bridge at Jalalaqsi was also hindered by the flood water. The river levels at both Bulo Burte (Figure 1) and Jalalaqsi have remained at bankful height to date (29th May) with more flood impacts reported. For these four continuous days, the residents have been forced to use boats to gain access to and from both towns. The impacts of the floods (Map 1) that began with Shabelle River bursting its banks on the 9th May 2023 at Belet Weyne have been widespread and devastating. Valuable properties have been lost including farmlands and house destructions. The ensuing population displacement have triggered other social challenges including, unavailability of shelter, food, and clean water for use, increase in water borne diseases, and family disconnection for example. This comes even before the residents of Belet Weyne upstream of Bulo Burte have had a complete return to their normal lives. Having lasted for 15 days in Belet Weyne (9th till 24th May), it is expected that the bankful river levels at Bulo Burte and Jalalaqsi will be sustained for the same period, even though some of the flood water may have been lost through river breakages and overbank spillage in between. Flooding is expected to continue over the next one week with a HIGH RISK OF FLOODS extending to other flood prone areas in Bulo Burte, Jalalaqsi and the adjacent areas. The river level at Jowhar has stagnated below moderate flood risk level (5.0 m) since the beginning of the Gu rains, with today’s level (3.70 m) being far much below its normal mark in this season (4.2 m), but higher than last year level at this time of the year. It is however expected that the high river levels at Bulo Burte will be transmitted to Jowhar within three to five days and eventually to Balcad within the coming week. A HIGH-RISK FLOOD WARNING is therefore foreseen over the next one week for Jowhar and the adjacent areas Since the 58.0 mm rains observed at Bulo Burte on Thursday 26th May, dry conditions have prevailed in the last week over South Central Somalia including the entire stretch of Shabelle River from Belet Weyne to Balcad. Consequently, not much run off will sustain the river levels as the flood wave flows downstream to Balcad. A MODERATE-RISK FLOOD WARNING is therefore foreseen over the next one week for Balcad and the adjacent areas. Therefore, residents of the flooded areas in Bulo Burte and Jalalaqsi are urged to beware of crocodiles that could have escaped the river on to the floodplains. They should also beware of the risks of drowning. In order to prevent water borne diseases, proper hygiene including disinfection measures should be adopted e.g., chlorination of water sources. The residents of areas prone to, but not yet flooded, should move to higher grounds. Residents in these areas who receive this flood warning information should pass it on to family, friends, and neighbors, securing property, and considering assembling an emergency kit with necessary supplies. The residents and authorities should close any open breakages and reinforce the weak river embankments using sandbags provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in partnership with the Hirshabelle Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and other partners upstream and downstream of Jowhar and Balcad. The residents should also prepare for potential evacuation by identifying safe routes to high grounds and gathering essential items, inform family, friends, and neighbors about the flood warning, secure property and consider assembling an emergency kit with necessary supplies. Residents are also strongly recommended to stay informed through regular bulletin updates at specified times, monitor thorough radio, television and internet for flood warnings.
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Date of publication: 
May, 2023