People stranded, cut off from care in severe flooding in South Sudan

Source: Médecins Sans Frontières
Country: South Sudan

MSF urges organisations to mobilise resources to mitigate the impact of rising flood levels in affected locations, and to ensure adequate attention is given to Pibor, in the east of the country.
  • Thousands of people have been left stranded in parts of east and northeast South Sudan in the wake of severe flooding.
  • Our teams have been forced to reduce medical activities and discharge people from hospital, leaving people cut off from medical care, after the hospital flooded.
  • MSF urges organisations and authorities to act swiftly to respond to the crisis, particularly in Pibor, eastern South Sudan.

JUBA - Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has launched emergency assessments in the east and northeast of South Sudan where severe flooding has left thousands of people stranded in inaccessible areas, threatening to make worse an already catastrophic humanitarian crisis.

We are urging all organisations to mobilise resources to mitigate the impact of rising flood levels in affected locations, and to ensure adequate attention is given to Pibor, in the east of the country.In Pibor our teams were forced to reduce life-saving activities and discharge patients when the hospital and compound became completely flooded, cutting off patients and the community from accessing healthcare.

In an effort to continue providing services, the MSF team constructed a tented facility on higher ground, but this is expected to flood within days.

“As soon as possible, the remaining nine patients in our care will be moved to a safer location,” says Roderick Embuido, MSF’s medical coordinator in South Sudan. “With a reinforced team including a field coordinator, medical activities manager and water and sanitation manager, we are urgently working in Pibor to again move and set up another temporary tented facility in a higher location.”

In Maban, in the northeast of the country, UNHCR estimates that more than 200,000 people have been affected by flooding. In our health centre, one critically ill child on oxygen support died when flooded generators caused a power cut. The MSF compound also flooded, and roads became impassable, temporarily preventing the team from reaching the health centre.

“We are extremely concerned for people in outlying areas around Pibor and Maban,” says Kim Gielens, MSF head of mission in South Sudan. “Our attention is on urgently conducting aerial and ground assessments to understand the broader impact of the flooding and to adapt our existing activities in Pibor to a continuously changing situation.”

“We know that with rising and contaminated water sources comes the risk of outbreaks of deadly waterborne diseases like cholera and hepatitis A,” Gielens says. “We can also expect a rapid increase in acute watery diarrhoea, malaria and respiratory tract infections - three of the biggest killers in South Sudan. International and national organisations must mobilise immediately to ensure provision of food, water, shelter and healthcare, and ensure adequate attention is given to Pibor where the entire population is now cut off from healthcare and assistance.”

MSF is concerned that flooding will increase the risk of malnutrition due to the destruction of personal food stocks and crops. In Maban, people tell us that the price of what little food is available in the markets has tripled and is no longer affordable.

In a country where malaria is the biggest killer of children under five and where we treat close to 300,000 patients per year, any increase in this vector-borne, life-threatening disease will have grave consequences for people cut off from access to care.

Additionally, we are concerned about the potential for an increase in snakebite victims, as snakes will move in the direction of drier land where people displaced by floods will congregate. We often see the fatal or debilitating consequences of snakebite envenoming in our hospital in Pibor, which people now have no access to.

Seven million people, or about two-thirds of the population, are already in dire need of humanitarian assistance in South Sudan and the consequences of severe flooding will further exacerbate their situation, undermining resilience, coping mechanisms and access to lifesaving services.

Seasonal rain causes floods in riverine areas in Somalia

Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Country: Somalia

Latest reports indicate nearly 40 per cent of Belet Weyne town has been affected by flooding with an estimated 72,000 people having moved to Ceel Jaale highlands and surrounding areas.
Situation Overview

The Deyr rains (September-December) started in September in some parts of Somalia and moderate to heavy rains have continued in many parts of the country and within the Ethiopian highlands over the last three weeks, according to the FAO-Managed Somalia Water and Land Information Management (SWALIM). As a result, in Belet Weyne and Jowhar riverine areas, the Shabelle river levels have surpassed the high risk level of flooding and are just a few centimeters to bank full capacity. By 21 October, the Shabelle river level was at 7.72 meters in Belet Weyne, less than half a meter below the bank full level of 8.30 meters with flooding reported in the town. In response, some residents have already begun relocating to higher ground. In Jowhar, river levels are near bank full, while two major breakages at Maandheere and Dhamasame (Jowhar) have reportedly resulted in flooding. Reports from neighboring areas in Ethiopia indicate overbank flows from the Shabelle with the flood water expected to reach Somalia in a day or two, thus increasing the risk of flooding in the region. The river levels are very high in Bulo Burto, Mahadey Weyne and all downstream reaches, and a similar trend is expected from upstream. Moderate to heavy rains are projected in the Ethiopian highlands that feed the river this week, and the Shabelle River is expected to rise further, leading to overbank spillage.

Along the Juba River basin, water levels are also high, with flooding reported in Doolow, Luuq, and Bardheere. On 21 October, SWALIM issued another alert on possible floods along the Juba river advising communities in these areas, to move to higher grounds. In light of the forecast, flash flooding is also expected in built-up and low lying areas of Bay, Bakool and central regions.

Humanitarian impact and needs

Latest reports received in the evening of 21 October indicate that nearly 40 per cent of Belet Weyne town has been affected by flooding with an estimated 72,000 people having moved to Ceel Jaale highlands and surrounding areas. All villages in the north of Belet Weyne town have been affected and humanitarian partners are yet to establish the number of people displaced in these areas. The situation is further compounded by flooding from an outburst of minor tributaries in Belet Weyne, which has caused damage to farmland in villages such as Hawo Taako. Significant portions of crop land were also flooded in Bardheere in Gedo region, (where the river is already at bank full) and Bualle. Riverine communities have been asked to vacate their homes to higher ground with immediate effect. The rains will continue in the next seven days and river levels will continue to rise, further worsening the flood situation. Local authorities working with humanitarian partners are closely monitoring the situation. During the 2018 Gu’ season, Belet Weyne town and surrounding areas were the worst affected by riverine flooding with an estimated 186,000 people displaced to several locations.

Humanitarian coordination and response

To strengthen flood preparedness and ensure a coordinated response, a Hiraan flood taskforce was activated in Belet Weyne under the leadership of the Governor. The task force is made up of local authorities and humanitarian partners. An initial assessment conducted by the task force in Ceel Jaale—where displaced communities are being relocated to—identified Shelter/ NFIs, food, WASH, emergency latrines and security as priorities. Dissemination of early warning information to flood prone-areas, including SWALIM flood alert SMS’ to the vulnerable communities along the rivers is curtailing the loss of assets and life. The provision of clean drinking water to 12,000 families is ongoing. Partners have pre-positioned emergency supplies ready for deployment. These include hygiene kits for 8,500 families, water treatment chemicals and four boats for rescue operation. Food for 4,000 families is expected to arrive in Belet Weyne shortly.

However, lack of shelter and emergency latrines is a major concern. If the river continues to rise and surpass the highrisk level, motorized boats will be required to reach people in isolated locations. There are currently four boats in the area, but more will be required. The local authorities have issued appeal for urgent humanitarian assistance with the situation expected to deteriorate.

Development Solutions

The two perennial rivers in Somalia, the Shabelle, which runs through Hirshabelle and South West states and the Juba, which extends the length of Jubaland, require constant maintenance and upkeep, which has been lacking for several decades. An estimated 10 centimeters of silt accumulates on the riverbeds, resulting in a loss of volume retained within the embankments, which are themselves in disrepair. Dredging of the rivers to remove silt and refuse and reinforcement of the embankments are required to prevent flooding, which has become an almost annual event due to the state of disrepair of the two rivers.

Mozambique update from HLA members

We have been coordinating responses from various HLA members on the current emergency situation in Mozambique following Cyclin Idai.

Club of Mozambique - emergency update

Club of Mozambique, the online gateway to Mozambique, reported that on 18 March the first international airlift arrived in Beira, Mozambique from UNHRD in Dubai. WFP are handling the distribution of supplies. For more information, read here.

Aero Africa - capacity

Reporting on 21 March, Jamie AndersonDirector -  African Solutions, said: "Remarkably I have not seen any humanitarian aid requests freely on the market for air cargo into Mozambique as of yet. It appears that the international call to help has yet to gather pace. I spoke to a few forwarders who handle NGO’s yesterday and they said the same. There are relief convoys en route ex South Africa. Day by day the world is starting to see the big picture therefore I expect a lot more activity in the coming days."

In terms of carrier availability, he added: "We would welcome any enquiries as we are very in touch with aircraft availability along the entire eastern coastline of Africa. Astral Aviation has the 727F based in NBO. There are also ample AN26F and also a C310 in MGQ that could also be called into play, as the operators do have spare hours".

Volga-Dnepr - capacity

Reporting on 21 March, Stuart Smith, Director Global Humanitarian, said of Volga-Dnepr's capacity: "1 x VDA IL76 is now ready in Maputo and will operate flights in coming days for BEW/Beira International Airport. We may consider ops also to Chimoio/VPY inside Mozambique. We may also look to offer B737F of Atran Cargo (Volga-Dnepr Group) ex EU and UAE origins, in case of smaller loads requirement. BEW, as we understand it, is not able to download larger freighters due lack of MDL but smaller freighters (forklift/low loader etc) as yes OR ramp". - shelter

John Vasila of Sheltereach said: “Zimbabwean President, Emmerson Minangagwa, of town Chmanimani Government wants to ensure that houses are built back with stronger materials. Sheltereach designs can be summed up with the word Simple. Simple for the end users, simple in terms of logistics and simple in procurement.

This leads to safe, affordable housing with access to services. We can also help local people to understand the building principles and materials used in our shelter/housing systems. We can partner with Government and NGOs to ensure appropriate disaster relief and reconstruction methods are used, increasing the strength by up to 30 times of  the original structure, usually without increasing the minimal budget cost".

See attached for typical shelter options and a diagram of a Disaster Cycle, in terms of shelter.