The Shabelle River rises out of the highlands of Ethiopia and flows into Somalia before draining into the Indian Ocean. The lower river supports one of Somalia’s primary food-growing regions; but in 2013, the river has been destroying crops. Rains in Ethiopia have kept the lower Shabelle River flooded since late August 2013, says IRIN, the news service for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The floods have affected 33 villages (about 66,000 people) and inundated large areas of farmland.
On December 4, 2012 the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) flying aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this true-color image of the Shabelle River. The river valley appears lush and green, with the water visible, but within the banks. Contrast this to the true-color image of the flooded lands captured by MODIS on Aqua nearly a year later, on December 4, 2013. In the flood scene, water is black and flows beyond the banks of the main river in channels that aren’t visible in the 2012 image.