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News: Flood in Gambella region displaces more than 185, 000 people

Picture: Gambella region press secretariat bureau

Addis Abeba – A new data released by the UN said that at least 185,200 people (37,040 households) were internally displaced and an additional 79,631 people (15,927 households) were affected by flooding that occurred across 12 Woredas as well as in the capital city of the Gambella regional state following heavy rains from early August to October this year.

The data shows a significant increase from the number of affected people released by Gatbel Mun, disaster risk management bureau head of the Gembella regional state, who said in August that more than 74,000 civilians have been displaced due to floods in eight districts of the regional state.

“Large parts of Gambella Region are prone to perennial river and flash flooding. The major rivers, Akobo, Alworo, Baro (Openo) and Gilo and their tributaries, often burst their banks during the rainy season and flood communities along the riverbanks, causing loss of life and livelihoods, displacing people and leading to waterborne diseases,” the UN said.

Flooding had caused severe damages in the region between April-July 2021, which had displaced some 11,749 residents.

According to the UN, the displaced people are in dire situation, taking refuge in substandard and overcrowded shelters such as schools and health facilities or out in the open air. The IDPs rely on wild plant leaves and roots to fill the food gap. Assessments also revealed that 72 per cent of cropland was damaged (mostly the staple maize) and, on average, eight per cent of livestock have reportedly died, mostly poultry. Destruction of properties and of social infrastructure is also rampant.

Water supply schemes are damaged and/or contaminated by flood waters. Of 917 water schemes in 10 affected woredas, 270 are not functional and require maintenance. At least 77 health facilities are affected by the floods across the 12 woredas, leaving the population in these areas without access to health services. There is high risk of water-borne diseases outbreak due to stagnant water and poor hygiene and sanitation; as well as risks of scabies, measles, and respiratory tract infection due to overcrowding in IDP sites. Meanwhile, at least 135 schools (99 primary and 36 secondary) were affected by flooding, affecting the education of 56,006 children.

Although the federal government and humanitarian partners are gradually improving the flood response although still not commensurate with the high needs, the UN cautions additional flood risks are high given the continuing rainfall. AS

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