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Thousands left homeless after Shabelle river floods in Jowhar

Hawo Mukhtar, a widowed mother of 12, has been sleeping in an open field in Jowhar for the past 11 days after being flooded out of her home in Baaarey village on the banks of the river Shabelle.

“My children are asking for food! I don’t know where to get any. We don’t have a place to shelter from the rains,” she said.

Hawo is among 5,000 pastoralist and farming families displaced from their homes in 10 villages across Jowhar at midnight when the river broke its banks and overflowed.

She evacuated her children with the help of her two oldest sons, reaching a highland area where they are camped out under a big mango tree.

She told Radio Ergo’s local correspondent that her two-roomed house had been submerged by the floodwaters and she and other families had been unable to rescue the food and their utensils before they left.

“There are a lot of mosquitoes here. We burn the dry leaves from the tree to try to disperse the mosquitoes,” she said.

Hawo said they had been visited several times by the authorities and NGOs in the area, but had not received any food. Only a few families were given tents.

“I begged a family who received tents to shelter three of my younger children at night. The rest of us are sleeping in this cold,” she complained.  “Every day there is a group that comes to visit us. They ask us questions and leave without any help. We feel excited every time we see them coming, thinking help has come.”

The river floods have cut the road connecting Jowhar to Mogadishu and Beledweyne, forcing those wanting to access the town to use boats as a means of transport.

There are fears that the swelling floodwaters will spread to other villages. Those currently affected are Baarey, Moyko, Libiga, Haansholey, Dhaaygawaan, Buulowaas, Mohamed Dhiblawe, Bananey, Damasha, and Liinta.

The Middle Shabelle commissioner, Ahmed Meyre, said the floods had washed away crops on farmland totalling up to 10,000 hectares. Some of the farms that are irrigated by river water were in the early stages of being harvested.

Asked what they were doing to help the displaced, the commissioner noted that their priority was to close up the ruptures in the riverbanks that were causing the flooding first before they could help the families.

“We have managed to close down one of the two sources of the flood water with the help of the businessmen and residents of Jowhar,” he said.

Khadro Mohamed Osman, a resident of Moyko village on the outskirts of Jowhar, lost her four- roomed house and the three-hectare farm she had planted with a variety of crops. She is now staying with her married son south of Moyko.

“Before the floods washed away my farm I had harvested and sold some pumpkin and coriander. But now there is nothing left, the crops on my farm have all been washed away,” she said.

Khadro said she is scraping together meals for her children by selling vegetables she gets on credit from the market and sells in front of her son’s home.

Source: Radio Ergo

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