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IGAD Warns of Heavy Rains in the Region


ADDIS ABABA: The Intergovernmental Authority on Development’s (IGAD) Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) has released its latest weather forecast.

It predicts that the long rainy season from March to May, also known as the MAM rainy season, will receive above-average rainfall.

This is good news for the region as this season contributes up to 60 per cent of the annual rainfall. With this above-average rainfall, it is hoped that the region will experience improved agricultural and hydrological conditions.

According to experts, the forecast probability is between 55 and 65 per cent and will benefit countries such as Kenya, Somalia, southern Ethiopia, southern Sudan, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and north-western Tanzania.

The highest probabilities are expected in Central and Western Kenya and in the border areas between Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. 

The recently released report of the 66th Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (GHACOF66) provides insights into the upcoming weather patterns for the region.

According to the report, some parts of the region may experience early to normal onset of rainfall over the next three months. The report highlights that there is an increased chance of early onset of rainfall in certain areas.

These areas include northern and north-eastern Tanzania, eastern Rwanda, southern and western Uganda, western Kenya, south-western Somalia and some parts of south-central Ethiopia.

The report’s findings will be essential for farmers, businesses and policymakers to prepare for the weather ahead.

“The predicted above-average rainfall is a significant turnaround from the recent dry spells that have caused immense hardship,” said ICPAC Director Dr Guleid Artan.

“These rains are vital for recharging water tables, supporting agricultural production and reviving ecosystems.” 

“While the food security situation may improve with wetter than usual conditions, it is important to remember the multiple challenges facing the region, including the historic drought in 2020-2022, conflicts in various parts of the region such as Sudan, and El Nino-induced floods at the end of 2023.

This has weakened the coping capacity of communities, leaving them highly vulnerable to food insecurity. The likelihood of flooding during the 2024 MAM season in parts of the region could therefore lead to a deterioration of food security in localised areas,” he added.

Many regions are expected to receive above-average rainfall, but certain areas in central Kenya and parts of southern and northwestern Ethiopia may experience a delayed onset of the rainy season. According to experts, these regions may still experience dry conditions, and flood-prone areas need to be prepared for potential flooding. Therefore, it is important to take necessary measures to ensure flood preparedness.

Dr Guleid Artan, Director of ICPAC, said: “Due to the increased rainfall recorded from October to December 2023 and the forecast of wetter than normal conditions from March to May, there is an increased risk of flooding in flood-prone areas.

The forecast underscores the urgency of coordinated action and preparedness and highlights the need for proactive measures to mitigate potential impacts and take advantage of the opportunities presented by the projected rainfall”. 

Last year, the El Niño phenomenon brought torrential rains to Kenya, causing rivers and drainage systems to overflow. The result was widespread flooding that caused significant damage to infrastructure and displaced hundreds of thousands of people. More than 160 people died as a result of the El Niño floods.

The objective temperature forecast predicts warmer than normal surface temperatures across the region. Sudan, northern South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia and southern parts of Tanzania are more likely to experience above-normal temperatures. The increased temperatures could affect agriculture, water availability and public health, among other things.

“It’s important to remember that even with above-average rainfall, there can be local variations,” Dr Artan said.

“National meteorological services and communities need to remain vigilant and prepared for both.”