On the evening of October 13, 2023, Bardera was beset by moderate rainfall. The skies, heavy with cumulonimbus clouds and punctuated by distant thunder, forewarned of the impending deluge. Over the subsequent five nights, relentless heavy rains led to the river’s swelling and the ensuing floods.
The river floods, alongside the rise of Lake Kurman, had devastating effects. Property damage and crop losses were extensive; homes succumbed to the torrential floods and fierce winds. Farmers witnessed their crops being devoured by the floodwaters, resulting in significant economic losses for individuals and the wider community.
Dangerously, the floodwaters were tainted with contaminants, including sewage from collapsed sanitation facilities. In desperation, some residents consumed the polluted water without treating it, exposing themselves to waterborne diseases such as diarrhea.
The floods severely undermined the area’s infrastructure. Vital roadways were compromised, with the primary route to Gedo becoming impassable. Locals turned to small boats to navigate the submerged territories, rendering certain areas unreachable.
Inhabitants of flood-prone areas were compelled to abandon their homes, leading to their displacement. These individuals were left in precarious situations, facing inadequate shelter, elevated health risks including malaria and pneumonia, hygiene challenges, and an increased danger of malnutrition.
In response, HIRDA partnered with UNICEF Somalia to implement nutrition, WASH, Education and Health programs targeting Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) and Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM) in the Bardhere district of Gedo Region. In the face of the crisis, HIRDA expanded its operations, providing services such as screening, IYCF (Infant and Young Child Feeding) sessions, distributions, OPD (Outpatient Department), ANC/PMC (Antenatal/Postnatal Care) EPI (Expanded Program on Immunization), and mobilized community health workers to direct beneficiaries to these sites while also raising awareness about the risks associated with El Niño. Boats were employed to access areas previously cut off due to the floods.