AFRICA

Somalia's year of climate misery: from devastating drought to fierce flashfloods

News 24

As Somalia withered from a drought early this year, and her goats dropped dead from thirst, Maka Abdi Ali begged for rain.

When the skies finally opened, nature was unmerciful.

Unrelenting downpours in October turned to flash floods, destroying her meagre home and few remaining possessions, and washing away whatever harvest and bony animals farmers managed to save during the months without rain.

“I have nothing now,” 67-year-old Ali told AFP in a squalid camp on the outskirts of Beledweyne in central Somalia.

Here, 180 000 people fled the fast-rising waters in the country’s worst floods in memory.

The arid Horn of Africa country has always been hostage to climate extremes. Rain is erratic, and drought a feature of life.But catastrophic weather events are occurring in Somalia with ever-greater fury and frequency, trapping millions in a near-constant cycle of crisis.

Little by little, the ability to recover is ground down, say experts.

There is no time to rebuild homes and replenish food stocks before another disaster strikes.

Impoverished and weakened by decades of war, battling an armed insurgency, Somalia is ill-equipped to cope with the destabilising impact of double-tap environmental crises.

Aid budgets are stretched trying to respond to back-to-back emergencies.

In May, the United Nations launched a drought appeal, warning of looming starvation as Somalia faced its worst harvest on record.

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