Somalia: IOM Offers Humanitarian Assistance to Thousands of People Affected by Cyclone Gati

Published Date: 
Tue, 03/30/2021

Mogadishu – More than 60,000 people, many of them internally displaced people were affected in Somalia following two days of torrential rains that caused flash floods in November 2020. Cyclone Gati made a landfall in the northeastern part of Somalia. It was the strongest storm ever recorded in the northern Indian Ocean and wreaked unimaginable damage on people and property.

For more than a decade, changing weather patterns have caused devastating floods followed by long periods of droughts.

The intensity and frequency of these climatic shocks continues to displace thousands of people per year who are forced to leave their homes, livelihoods and communities after expending every possible avenue to survive.

The tropical cyclone, equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane, dropped an incredible two years’ worth of rainfall in just 72 hours. Just two weeks later the scale of the disaster was unmistakable. Livestock was killed, fishing and agriculture disrupted, wells inundated, houses destroyed, and some 42,000 people displaced.

Cyclone Gati didn’t just bring about scores of material damage. The heavy rains caused the Ceel-Daahir River in Puntland to flood, blocking vehicles from bringing crucial supplies. In some towns such as Xaafun, Hurdiye, and Karduush people reported losing their entire herds of livestock. There were also reports of the destruction of 120 fishing vessels in these areas resulting in the loss of livelihood for an estimated 460 fishermen.

With the desert locust infestation already ravaging large parts of Somalia, the impact of Cyclone Gati made an already bad situation dire. There are fears the heavy rains could encourage breeding in certain areas and provide the wind needed for swarms to migrate to regions even further afield.

Responding to Cyclone Gati

In the aftermath of Cyclone Gati, many families lost their shelter and were forced to sleep in the open without any protection from the elements and exposed to a variety of illnesses. With their livelihood tools destroyed, many people found it even harder to get back on their feet.

The International Organization for Migration, IOM, undertook a cash based intervention (CBI) in Bossaso few weeks after the storm- the second largest epicenter of the cyclone- as part of efforts to alleviate the suffering of those affected. More than 1,500 households received an e-voucher worth USD 100 in exchange for 66 items of their choice.

Through the cash based intervention, IOM was able to help the affected meet their material needs. Many had their shelters and household items washed away in the storm. The shelters they put up after the storm were unable to withstand the heavy rainfall.

The intervention also allowed entire communities to get back on their feet in a matter of days. Consultation with the affected population prior to the intervention allowed IOM to offer items specific to the priorities of  women and girls, with community leadership providing a comprehensive list of the most needed items which were then placed on the e-voucher. Through the livelihood items provided, families were able to fend for themselves whilst household, hygiene, and sanitary items enabled a more dignified and healthier lifestyle.

A further impact of the intervention was the strengthening of supply lines and local markets – a number of local vendors were chosen, and through the e-vouchers they received a capital injection of USD 150,000 to stimulate the economy in the aftermath of the crisis.

The impact of climate change has been undeniable long before Cyclone Gati. This year, the country is preparing to experience yet another devastating period of drought. Alarming water shortages are already being reported across Somalia, a situation that already affects over 1.6 million people and that is expected to deteriorate further between April and June.

IOM will continue to mitigate the risks through its interventions, fortifying community links and working to be on the frontlines as first responders.

The activity mentioned in this article was possible thanks to funding from the Office of United States Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA)

For more information contact Claudia Barrios Rosel at [email protected] and Tiara Sahar Ataii at [email protected].    

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