Vital Somali river runs dry

Friday February 16 2018

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One of Somalia's main rivers, the Shabelle, is running dry, causing millions of people who depend on it for their livelihoods to suffer amid a recurrent drought, local media report.

The river flows into southern Somalia from the highlands of neighbouring Ethiopia. It is the longest river in Somalia and is a major source of water for people in south and central Somalia.

But for the third time in three years, the water has stopped flowing.

Pictures shared on social media show the river has almost entirely dried up, with residents digging into the mud in search of water.

The little water that the residents are fetching from the riverbed is not clean. There are fears of a cholera outbreak as a result of the river drying and people consuming dirty water.

On Thursday, local media reported that 10 people had died of diarrhoea in Daymasame village in Middle Shabelle region after drinking contaminated water.

"As you can see the water in the Shabelle River is not fit for human or animal consumption. As you know there is change of weather patterns, globally. However, we have a long term plan to prevent such thing from happening again," one Somali government official told the privately-owned Radio Kulmiye.

In January, the UN said about 6.2 million Somalis needed emergency aid, such as food, water and shelter, due to an unprecedented drought. it appealed for $1.6bn to help.