“Beledweyne is a big town in central Somalia, with high-rise buildings and a vibrant commercial activity. Although it is frequently affected by seasonal rains, this year was different. The Shabelle river was so swollen with water from the highlands of neighbouring Ethiopia that, in late October, its banks burst and almost completely flooded the town.
The floods have affected everyone, rich and poor, in a way that locals don’t remember ever having seen. Everyone was forced out of their homes and offices. In the business district, the water reached a level that couldn’t even be measured. Some people moved to rooftops and were isolated; others were rescued by boat from their homes.
After a few days without rain, the water is now receding, but damage to the roads and sewage system is very visible. Sewage and flood water have mixed, widely contaminating the shallow wells that provide drinking water. Food stocks have been washed away and stagnant puddles of water are everywhere, creating breeding grounds for mosquitoes that cause malaria and other diseases.