Following Devastating Drought, Floods Wreak Havoc in the Horn of Africa

05 December 2023

While world leaders gather at COP28 in Dubai, a new and deadly climate disaster is unfolding across the Horn of Africa following intense rainfall linked to the El Niño climate phenomenon. Devastating floods have already killed hundreds and displaced more than 2 million people, including over 1 million in Somalia, 600,000 in Ethiopia, and 460,000 in Kenya.

According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, an average of 26 million new displacements have been recorded globally each year from 2018 to 2022 due to the impact of various climate disasters. In 2022 alone, 32.6 million new disaster displacements were registered worldwide, notably due to floods (59%) and storms (31%). 

Mercy Corps Regional Director for Africa, Melaku Yirga, says:

“What we are witnessing in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia is yet another devastating blow to an already fragile humanitarian situation. Floods have washed away entire villages, wiping out homes, farmlands, and the critical infrastructure necessary to support a swift recovery and movement of people, goods, and much-needed humanitarian aid. In Somalia, the hardest hit are internally displaced people who are already in dire need of humanitarian assistance after fleeing drought and conflict-stricken areas. 

“The flooding has caused substantial damage on major roads, notably in Kenya and Somalia, disrupting transportation that has resulted in a significant surge in food prices. For instance, within a week of the flooding in Dollow, a part of the southern Gedo region of Somalia, our teams reported a 65% increase in the price of a 50kg bag of wheat flour, a 57% rise in the price of a 50kg bag of sugar, and a 23% increase in the price of a 50kg bag of rice. 

“These communities now face a significant risk of water-borne diseases as the floods have damaged water structures, particularly in the town centers, rendering the water unsafe for drinking and cooking.

“The Horn of Africa, caught in a relentless cycle of droughts and floods, is widely recognized as one of the regions most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, yet these countries receive less than 1% of international climate financing from donors and multilateral climate funds and often struggle to secure enough funding needed for rebuilding. World leaders must honor commitments made over a decade ago to assist these communities in adapting and coping with the challenges posed by climate change.