(ERGO) – Guudow Ishaq Abdirahman, 80, spent a night standing up knee-deep in water without a wink of sleep last week, after floods submerged his house in Aro-Gaduud IDP camp in the southern Somali town of Baidoa.
It was the third time since the heavy rains began that his house was flooded – the water came in on 29 April and again on 3 May. On 5 May, the third time, it came in such a torrent that everything was lost and they had finally to move away.
Guudow and his family of six are now stay with rather grudging relatives in Buula-Jima, near Baidoa. They lost all their bedding, utensils and the 10 kg of food they had just bought. They have been unable to cook anything for themselves and send the children out to try to get something to eat from their neighbours in Buula-Jimi.
Guudow used to break rocks to sell gravel in the IDP camp until the work became too much for his now frail frame and he had to stop. He said he plans to settle the family in another IDP camp that has not been affected by the floods, but he needs to find money to buy iron sheets and building materials as their former house is not accessible.
He has spent two years as an IDP, having fled from Awdiinle, 30 km from Baidoa, where the drought destroyed the family’s farm.
Having lost everything previously, it may not be surprising that families such as Guudow’s stayed on until the bitter end hoping the floods would recede before agreeing to relinquish their humble property and belongings.
In the last two weeks, torrential downpours have affected 174,000 people living in Baidoa and the IDP camps, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). Heavy rain is forecast to continue in the coming weeks.
Water flowing down from higher ground into the sprawling IDP camps carried away the belongings of hundreds of families. Some of the freshly displaced families do not have any plastic sheeting to make the flimsy shelters they put up protect them from the rain.
Mohamed Ali Nur moved with hundreds of others from Makoon camp, which was located on the path of a rushing river swollen by the rain. He moved with his family of eight to higher ground three km away in Salaamay Iidale camp.
Mohamed told Radio Ergo the rains they had been awaiting for more than two years had arrived and brought havoc. He has been earning a small income laboring on a farm ploughing and planting. Two years ago, however, he had his own farm in Dinsor, Bay region, with 70 cows and goats, and a small shop. The drought claimed all his livestock and plunged his business into loss.
Kasim Mohamed Adan, NRC representative in Bay and Bakool, told Radio Ergo most of the IDP families affected used to live on their own land but had not been able to cultivate for a long time due to consecutive failed rains. The displaced people settled in IDP camps in Baidoa with permission from the South-West state administration.