(ERGO) – Adan Oyow Ibrahim fled with his large family from their farm south of Jowhar when floodwater from the river Shabelle started pouring in on 11 August.
He and his three wives and 17 children are now living out in the open on a slope five kilometres away from their home in Bodale village. They left in a hurry without carrying any of their belongings when the floods caught them by surprise late in the evening.
“We are sheltering under tree branches we tied together. The rain is pouring down on us and we don’t have plastic sheets for shelter, nor blankets against the cold,” Adan told Radio Ergo’s local reporter.
Adan said the floods destroyed his six-roomed house and washed away all the crops he had planted on his seven-and-a-half-hectare farm. He was due to harvest his maize, beans, sesame, pumpkins, tomatoes, mangoes and oranges in less than 40 days.
They are managing to get one meal a day. “We are receiving help from the neighbours who were not affected by the flood water. They collect dry food among them and share it with us,” he said.
Adan is among the 783 families displaced from Bodale, 22 km from Jowhar town, by this month’s sudden flooding. It was the second time in less than three months that his crops had been wiped out. Floods struck earlier in May just before he could harvest.
He is now worried about repaying the$1,420 debt he has incurred for his investment in the last two failed farming seasons.
“If the floods hadn’t washed away my farm, I would have cleared my debts. I swear, I don’t know how I will repay it all now,” said Adan.
Another village badly affected by the flooding was Halgan, where 480 farming families had to leave their homes and land. Among them was Hussein Yussuf Abdi, who told Radio Ergo that he and his wife and six children are living on fish from the flood water.
“If you don’t catch any the fish, the children will sleep hungry that night. It is hard to catch the fish because they need bait. I use frogs as bait for fishing but the frogs themselves are hard to get nowadays,” he said.
Hussein said they were given three kgs of maize by another displaced neighbour, which they cooked and ate over the first two days after the floods struck. Since then, they have only eaten the fish they catch.
He had planted maize and tomatoes on his two hectares and was expecting to harvest it at the end of this month.
“For two consecutive farming seasons I haven’t harvested the crops I planted. The flood washed away my farm last season and now it has washed them away for the second time and displaced us. It has also destroyed my home,” said Hussein.
He has loans of $400 to pay off. Four of his children are now out of school.
The river floods were caused by a rise in river water levels caused by heavy rainfall upstream in Ethiopia. Authorities in the two villages said crops on around 1,500 hectares of land were washed away.
In addition, 437 children from two schools are out of education after their families fled from the floods.