It may be a hot and dry country most of the year but Oman, like Saudi Arabia, is prone to flash flooding. In November 2011, around 14 people were reported to have been killed and more than 200 more injured after flash floods hit Oman. The year before, a tropical storm killed 50 people in Oman. Now, Omanis living in places such as Wadi Dayqah are being asked by the government to leave their homes and farmlands behind and relocate to safer areas.
According to a report from Al Jazeera, however, many residents are reluctant to leave. One local explains that they have a flourishing community in the wadi (valley) and have no intentions of abandoning it due to rising fears over flooding. If anything, they want to improve and preserve their community which boasts stunning landscapes and natural biodiversity.
Low-lying areas such as wadis are particularly prone to flooding. In 2010, torrential downpour triggered strong flows in the wadis which trapped people and shut off some areas from cars after the roads were flooded. Residents of the Omani town of Hail Al Ghaf which is near Wadi Dayqah are being encouraged to leave. Hundreds of free homes have been built as well as a mosque and school to tempt them away from the wadi.
Plans to control the water flowing through the wadi using dams have been mentioned as a more ‘sustainable’ way of farming and using water. Government authorities insist that they are not asking that farmland be abandoned but rather that they are ‘restructured’. As Al Jazeera reporter Andrew Hopkins explains, however, with rising oil and gas revenue in the country the way of life for Omani people living in the wadis looks set to change.
You can also checkout Al Jazeera’s new environmental programme called ‘Earthrise – An Environment for Solutions‘ which is now in to its eighth episode. All the episodes are available online and cover the issues from an international perspective.
: Image via ringogoingo/flickr.
For more on water issues in Oman see: