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El Nino to affect 1.7 mln in East Africa countries

19 November 2015, 21:30

Nairobi - An estimated 1.7 million people could be affected by floods due to heavy rains pounding countries in the Eastern Africa region this year alone, the UN humanitarian agency warned on Thursday.

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) pointed out that Kenya and Somalia would see the largest impact.

Excessive rain could result in localized displacement and increased incidence of communicable diseases, OCHA Eastern Africa region in its latest Humanitarian Bulletin released in Nairobi.

Based on meteorological data, large parts of the eastern Africa region have a 60 percent chance of seeing above average rainfall over the coming months.

During the last five El Nino events in the region, an average of one million people was affected by floods.

"With the current El Nino event expected to be the strongest on record, there is serious concern about flooding in the region. To date, some 90,000 people have been affected by floods in Somalia alone," the UN agency said.

The UN agency earlier estimated that 32.1 million people in East Africa would need food aid by the beginning of 2016 as El Nino phenomenon featuring heavy rains would worsen food security in the coming months in the region.

Also read: Deal with traffic problems, angry Joho tells Uhuru

Governments and partners in Eastern Africa are racing against the clock to prepare for and mitigate flood impact. Aid supplies and boats are being prepositioned in flood-prone areas.

Humanitarian partners are working with local authorities and community leadership to strengthen local response capacity, reinforce river embankments and raise awareness.

In Kenya, a National El Nino taskforce was established to operationalize the national contingency plan and activate a national mass communication plan.

The El-Nino climate phenomenon, characterized by a warming in the Pacific Ocean, is set to strengthen over the coming months and persist into 2016. When El Nino occurs, rainfall patterns shift, increasing the risk of extreme weather events.

As compared to the flooding, drought conditions have persisted in South Sudan, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti and primarily Ethiopia where the number of food insecure would increase from 2.9 million people at the start of 2015 to a projected 15 million people in early 2016, the UN said.

Last week the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) warned that 11 million children are at risk from hunger, disease and lack of water in eastern and southern Africa alone as El Niño exacerbates a prolonged drought.


- Xinhua


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