Horn of Africa braces for El Nino-driven rains, heavy flooding

Somalia and neighboring Horn of Africa nations are bracing for extreme rains likely to cause more flash flooding, according to the forecasting service of the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

Extremely heavy and widespread rains are forecast for Kenya’s northeast, Ethiopia’s southeast, and the south of Somalia. More limited risk affects Uganda, South Sudan and Burundi.

Heavier than expected seasonal rains are influenced by El Nino patterns and the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) shift, according to the IGAD experts. The shifts create the potential for crop losses as well as life and property threats.

“The regions most susceptible to these effects in Somalia are the communities along the riverine areas of Shabelle and Juba basin, spanning over 36 districts across the country. Notably, El Nino is poised to exacerbate the humanitarian crisis,” said the Somali NGO Consortium.

The Juba and Shabelle rivers are at high levels ahead of the new rains. Both rivers originate in Ethiopia, with southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya also seeing isolated floods in recent days. The rain and flooding can lead to cholera outbreaks and other diseases, as well as food insecurity.

There are about 278,000 people already affected across Galmudug, Hirshabelle, Jubaland and Southwest regions, according to the UN.

New rains of more than 200 millimeters (mm) may occur in the most at-risk areas, including parts of Gedo and Lower Juba. Somalia already is seeing water levels rise following rains of 110 mm in one day at Berbera, and 196 mm across two days at Bardheere, near the western borders, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

The amount at Bardheere is 70% of the anticipated total during the Deyr rainy season, and reflects the impact of El Nino, said FAO on Wednesday.


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