Status of River Breakages Along Juba and Shabelle Rivers - Issued 14 March 2023

Title Language: 
FAO-SWALIM, the Somalia Water and Land Information Management, has completed an analysis and mapping project of river breakages along the Juba and Shabelle rivers. The project utilized Very High Resolution (VHR) satellite imagery and a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) to identify and classify the breakages into four categories: open, canal flooding, overflow, and closed with sandbags. The open breakages are those that are currently open and were observed on the latest VHR image available. The observations reported refer to the latest suitable VHR satellite image available, which is indicated in the online database. The map identified a total of 62 open breakage points, 36 on the Shabelle River and 26 on the Juba River, which require immediate attention. In addition, 15 overflow points and 39 canal flooding points were identified during this season. The Horn of Africa region has experienced five consecutive poor rainy seasons, resulting in severe hydrological drought conditions in Somalia and neighboring countries. The Juba and Shabelle rivers, which have their headwaters in the Ethiopian highlands, have remained near or below the long-term average since the beginning of 2023, negatively impacting agriculture production, domestic and livestock water use for the riverine communities. However, the low river levels provide an opportunity to repair the river breakages and weak embankments before the next rainy season. It is important to note that the methodology used in this analysis, is biased towards remote sensing interpretation, with limited "ground truthing" due to difficulties in accessing the areas. Open breakages may have been omitted or classified as potential in some cases where satellite images were unavailable or not clear due to heavy cloud cover or dense vegetation.
Date of publication: 
March, 2023