October 21, 2009

Flooding Expected To Hit Drought-Stricken East Africa

On Tuesday the UN sent out an alert that East Africa could be hit by flash floods in approaching months, with the potential to affect hundreds of thousands of people already suffering from a severe drought.

The prediction comes from the UN's humanitarian coordination office that reported that the El Nino climate pattern in the Pacific basin could set off heavy rain in the Horn of Africa, which is currently experiencing one of the worst droughts in a decade.

"El Nino could create in the coming weeks and months extremely serious floods in the Horn of Africa with mudslides, destruction to crops, and illnesses linked to water," said Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman for the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The UN said that the flash floods could affect approximately 750,000 people in Kenya and around 450,000 people in Somalia's Shabelle and Juba river basins, and 50,000 people in Tanzania would be in danger of repeating the devastating floods of 2006-07.

The torrential rains my even restore water reserves and quench parched pastures in some areas, according to OCHA.

However, OCHA added that the rains will not likely have any substantial impact on the food shortages in the region until the 2010 harvests.

Last month, British charity Oxfam said that the drought, which some areas have endured for five years, is directly or indirectly responsible for over 23 million people experiencing severe hunger and destitution across East Africa.


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