Over 2.8 million people across 9 African countries have been deeply affected by catastrophic rainfalls over the last few weeks.
Dozens of people have been killed across central and eastern Africa after heavy rains triggered landslides and caused rivers to burst their banks. Kenya has most casualties: 130 people have died there and 250 across the region.
On the other side of the Congo river at least 50,000 people were affected by the downpours, prompting the Congo-Brazzaville government to declare a state of emergency.
Heavy rains and landslides have also killed dozens across the wider east African region during weeks of downpours, with 29 buried by landslides in Kenya and 10 people drowned in a river in Tanzania, officials have said. In Uganda it’s also really bad with many villages flushed away.
While there can still be some rain falling in January and February, the next rainy season is March to May. In Kenya typically the short rains occur in late October early November, but this amount of water is highly unusual and a consequence of Climate Change. in 2016 and 2017 the “long rains” of March – May failed entirely and the whole region suffered a massive drought.
Weather experts from the UK Environment Agency said: “The rains this season have been enhanced by a phenomenon called the Indian Ocean Dipole which, when positive, can cause a rise in water temperatures in the Indian Ocean of up to 2C. This leads to higher evaporation rates off the East African coastline and this water then falls inland.”
A relief worker from CARE International said: “Many of the people affected by this flooding are also the same that were affected by the terrible droughts earlier this year that left over 3 million people in food insecurity”. It’s important we do remember how real the changes of weather patters are. Scientists even say that extreme weather events will be the new normal if warming continues at its present rate.
Floods: tips to remember (Source : The UK Environment Agency)
- 15cm (6in) of fast-flowing water can knock over an adult and about 60cm (2ft) of water can move a car
- Avoid walking or driving through flood water
- Move your family upstairs or to a high place with a means of escape
- Do not touch sources of electricity when standing in flood water
- Put plugs in sinks and baths
- Weigh belongings down with a sandbag or a heavy object
- Flood water can contain sewage, chemicals and animal waste so wash your hands thoroughly if you touch it.