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East Africa’s floods decimate almost entire rainy season harvest leaving over four million people with no food or income

Six months after a historic five-season drought, massive floods have inundated vast swaths of farmland across Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia, right in the middle of the harvest season. Over four million impacted people are in dire need of humanitarian assistance, warned Oxfam today.

The torrential rains, which began in October, have killed hundreds of people, washed away thousands of homes, and destroyed thousands of hectares of farmers’ crops in the three countries. Nearly two million people across the three countries have also been forced to flee their homes and farms.

In Somalia alone, the heavy Deyr (October–December) rains have killed over 100 people and devastated one-fifth of the harvest in South Central Somalia, including 1,400 metric tonnes of sorghum in Juba and Shabelle, which have wilted. It is expected that 1.5 million hectares of farmland in Somalia will be adversely affected by the floods.

“The worsening climate crisis is a harsh reality for those already suffering hunger and destitution in East Africa. Today, millions of people are pummelling by consecutive weather extremes they are hardly responsible for, with absolutely nothing to shield them or help them rebuild their lives.” said Oxfam Africa Director Fati N’zi-Hassane.

Adan Hassan, a farmer from Bardhere, one of the worst-affected regions in Somalia, told Oxfam:

“We have lost all our crops. All the tomatoes, watermelons, beans, and carrots that we would have harvested within months were all swept away. More than 80% of the bananas, lemons, and sorghum have also been destroyed. We had just started recovering, and the rains have taken everything we have built in the past few months.” In neighbouring Kenya, the unrelenting floods have displaced over 500,000 people after washing away thousands of their homes, devastating over 21,000 acres of their farmland, and killing 13,500 of their livestock.

Similarly, in Ethiopia’s Somali region, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced. The destruction of several roads has hampered transportation and caused the prices of food and other basic commodities to soar.

Even before this flooding, consecutive and prolonged droughts and ongoing conflict have already caused severe food shortages and massive losses of livestock, leaving 27.4 million people across the three countries in crisis or worse levels of hunger.

“The scale and frequency of climate destruction in East Africa paint a stark picture of the abhorrent climate injustice against disadvantaged countries and communities facing climate extremes,” said Oxfam Africa Director Fati N’zi-Hassane. “At this year’s COP28, rich polluting nations—largely responsible for the climate crisis—must honour their obligation to provide climate finance for adaptation, loss, and damage so that East African countries can free up resources to support impacted communities as they adapt, recover, and rebuild their lives,” added N’zi-Hassane.

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