Hiiraan Online Editorial
Tuesday, November 5, 2019
The perennial floods along the Shabelle and Juba basins and other parts of the country are again with us uprooting thousands of families from their homes, robbing them of livelihoods and at worst causing deaths. Evidently, Beletwein has particularly been prone to floods with recurring disastrous overflows. The hideous flooding that engulfed the entire city has left 7,500 families displaced with 350,000 people affected as reported by the Minister of education Abdullahi Godah Barre who is also a member of the relief and rescue committee. At least 21 people have been confirmed dead according to Hiiraan Regional Administration.
Besides the predictability of the floods-backed by briefs, alerts and reports from UN bodies among others, the response has also been very predictable and largely consistent. The Federal Government and regional governments often announce formation of ad hoc ministerial committees about a week into the flooding followed by appeals to the international community for support with the culmination of presidential tour to the seriously affected areas. This time, there has been a pledge of 500,000 US funds by the Federal government which has yet to reach in the hands of those in need. Giant telecom companies notably Hormud and Dahabshiil among others have already delivered much needed aid to Beledwein. Business community in Mogadishu and Puntland has also dispatched loads of disaster relief assistance.
Whereas the government has made efforts in leading the relief efforts in partnership with UN agencies and local organisations, the response is too little to late. The erratic accelerating climate change effects notwithstanding, it’s almost always predictable months away that floods will occur. In fact, one can easily without even the benefit of technology and advanced knowledge tell that a similar flood is eminent in the following year.
It is time to put to an end the suffering, which the people of Beletwein and other affected areas are subjected to annually. It is time to invest in durable and sustainable solutions especially in the riverine zones. With commitment and seriousness on the part of the Federal Government and Federal Member State governments, rains especially in the Juba and Shabelle basin should no longer herald a curse but a blessing. Other countries have done it successfully and Somalia can do it too. The millions of dollars, which go into emergency relief efforts and recovery as a result of the floods, can proactively be channeled into building the necessary infrastructure along these rivers and even tapping this water for use during the dry season.
To win the hearts and minds of the people, leaders need to thoughtfully prioritize funding to where it is most needed. For instance, the Prime Minister has, in the last two months, made a public pronouncement of projects worth $1 million for youth support in Puntland, renovation of stadiums, and rehabilitation of a bridge in Jubbaland, and another stadium for South West State. While infrastructure development for the country is a step in the right direction, funding priorities seem to have been woefully misguided. Essential human needs such as security, shelter, water and food should take priority over development and growth needs, as Maslow hierarchy of needs would rightly argue. In a nutshell, leadership at the Federal, State and Regional bodies need to get their priorities right and above all, act proactively instead of reacting to cycles of predictable disasters.
Hiiraan Online Editorial