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GIEWS Update-detail
FAO/GIEWS Global Watch

5 September 2007

Floods Cause Damage in Parts of Several East African Countries


Recent heavy rains and floods in parts of several countries of East Africa have killed a number of people and/or displaced thousands, destroyed or damaged crops and increased the likelihood of serious localised food shortages. The sub-regionís 2007 main cropping season is being concluded in southern parts of the sub-region while in northern parts crops are at varying stages of development.

In Sudan, heavy rains within the country and in neighbouring Ethiopian and Eritrean highlands caused an overflow of the main rivers. So far, torrential rains and floods have killed some 90 people across Sudan and destroyed more than 70 000 homes. At least 12 000 head of livestock and more than 42 000 hectares of crops are reported to have been destroyed. In addition, more than 200 000 people have also lost their homes and an estimated 3.5 million people are reported to be at risk of epidemics. Worst affected areas include Kassala in eastern Sudan, parts of Unity and Upper Nile states. The 2007 rainfall season is turning out to be one of the wettest of recent record across many areas of Sudan. The early onset of the season was characterised by very wet June and July conditions which continued through August. The amount of rainfall has been above average in most parts of the country with more northern regions receiving twice the average rainfall. Harvesting of current season crops is expected to start in November. An appeal was made for US$20 million to support the humanitarian assistance launched by the United Nations.

Similarly, in Ethiopia, floods have so far affected more than 130 000 people with an estimated 36 000 of them being displaced in Afar, Amhara, Gambella, Tigray and Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples (SNNP) regions. Furthermore, as the ongoing rains raise the water level of Lake Tana, there are concerns that more people in the surrounding districts of northwestern Ethiopia could be displaced. This year's flooding seems to have also occurred in normally non-flood prone areas, increasing floodwater area coverage. Government and humanitarian joint contingency plans anticipate relief and recovery assistance will be required for 324 000 people this season under the most likely scenario.

In Uganda, floods in August were reported to have displaced tens of families and destroyed crops in the eastern parts of the county. The Minister for relief, disaster preparedness and refugees indicated that high waters had submerged entire villages and destroyed many farms. Several communities in Aakum in the Katakwi district, and Acowa in Amuria district, have been affected by the flooding. Neighbouring regions in north-western Kenya have also been affected, with more than one thousand families displaced after heavy rains in the western highlands caused a river to burst its banks and flood villages.

In Somalia, recent reports indicate that the Shabelle River has spilled over its banks and submerged farming areas in some villages in Middle Shabelle region. These floods, resulting mainly from heavy rains in the Ethiopian highlands, are expected to exacerbate the already vulnerable situation in the region. Recently, Somaliaís Food Security analysis Unit (FSAU) and partners reported that cereal production in the current main agricultural "gu" season in southern Somalia was estimated at 48 600 tonnes, the lowest level in the last thirteen years, representing only 31 percent of the 1995 to 2006 post-war average (PWA) and 43 percent of last yearís gu 2006 production. The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance has increased by 50 percent in the last six months from 1 million to 1.5 million people. Nearly one fifth of these people are classified in Humanitarian Emergency (HE) requiring life saving interventions while a third are in Acute Food and Livelihood Crisis (AFLC) requiring livelihood support. In addition, there are 325 000 people who are newly displaced from Mogadishu and 400 000 already displaced requiring both life and livelihood saving interventions.