El Niño Phenomenon Likely to Cause Flooding in Eastern Africa
By Gift Briton
Heavy rains leading to flooding are expected across most parts of Eastern Africa during the October to December 2023 season, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Eastern Africa Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) has announced.
ICPAC notes that due to the heavy rainfall experienced across much of the region from March to May 2023, increased precipitation from October to December (OND) may contribute to flooding.
“We have now entered El Niño conditions which, for Eastern Africa, are synonymous with wetter conditions during OND. After three years of devastating drought, this may be seen as a blessing for farmers,” Dr. Guleid Artan, ICPAC Director, noted.
“Still, it can quickly become a curse. Desert locusts are already proliferating to alarming levels in parts of the region. The risk of deadly incidents also increases significantly. We all remember the last El Niño in 2015/16 when downpours of torrential rains caused landslides, flash floods, and buildings to collapse.”
Dr. Artan advised governments and disaster management agencies to take all necessary measures to save lives and livelihoods.
According to the organization, chances of experiencing wetter-than-usual rainfall is higher in southern Ethiopia, eastern Kenya, and southern Somalia as opposed to areas such as south-western Uganda and south-western South Sudan which are likely to experience drier-than-usual conditions.
“El Niño is a climate phenomenon characterized by the periodic warming of sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. Its effects can influence weather patterns worldwide. Another significant phenomenon known as the Indian Ocean Dipole is developing over the Indian Ocean and will reinforce the El Niño impacts,” Dr. Hussen Seid, Climate Modelling Expert at ICPAC, added.
October to December is a vital rainfall season, particularly in the equatorial parts of the Greater Horn of Africa, contributing up to 70% of the annual total rainfall.
ICPAC predictions show that eastern Kenya, southern Somalia, and eastern Tanzania are more likely to get early onset although the onset will probably delay over parts of northern Somalia, western Kenya, Uganda, southern South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, and north-western Tanzania.
Also, there is an increased likelihood of warmer-than-usual surface temperatures for almost all parts of the Greater Horn of Africa, particularly over Djibouti, Eritrea, northern Ethiopia, northern Somalia, and parts of coastal Tanzania.