Experts warn heavy El Nino rains could bring floods and landslides

Boda boda rider navigates through a flooded Sirata-Marigat Road in Baringo County. [File, Standard]

The Eastern Africa region is predicted to experience higher-than-usual rainfall during the short October-December season.

This information was shared at the 65th Horn of Africa Climate Outlook forum organized by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (Icpac).

The forum brought together climate scientists, researchers, users from key socio-economic sectors, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders. Icpac Director Guleid Artan expressed concern about the desert locust infestation in northern Ethiopia and Sudan.

He said that the onset of rains might provide favourable conditions for the locust infestation in the region, thus the need to be prepared.

Dr Guleid warned that if countries had not learned from the last infestation, this could be severe, with conducive conditions for the infestation to last at least a year.

He noted that the region is more prepared compared to three years ago due to the establishment of an inter-regional cooperation mechanism at the IGAD level.

Hussein Seid, the climate modelling expert at Icpac, warned about the negative impact of the expected rainfall.

"There is a likelihood of moderate to severe wet conditions, so we need to think about the flash floods, landslides and other negative impacts of these wet conditions," Mr Hussein said.

He warned that a moderate to strong El Nino is expected this year in parts of Eastern Africa.

"El Nino is a climate phenomenon characterised by the periodic warming of sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. Its effects can influence weather patterns worldwide," he said.

He added: "Another significant phenomenon known as the Indian Ocean Dipole is developing over the Indian Ocean and will reinforce the El Nino impacts."

The October to December period is a crucial rainfall season, contributing 20 to 70 per cent of the annual total rainfall in the equatorial parts of the Greater Horn of Africa.

The season is likely to start early in some areas, including eastern Kenya, southern Somalia, and eastern Tanzania, while it might begin later in other regions like northern Somalia, western Kenya, Uganda, southern South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, and north-western Tanzania.

In Kenya, enhanced rainfall is expected, particularly in the eastern region compared to the western part of the country.

Eunice Koech, a climate scientist at Icpac, confirmed that enhanced rainfall is expected in Kenya's eastern region, with the season starting early there and later in the western part of the country.

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