Floods in two regions of Ethiopia have left dozens of people dead and caused the destruction of 100s of homes.
The state broadcaster, Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation, and the Associated Press news agency, report that 28 people have died in floods in the country since the start of the week.
The worst of the floods occurred in Jijiga (also known as Jigjiga), in the Somali Region of the country, after the Fafen River reportedly overflowed on Monday 04 April 2016. Reports claim at least 23 people have been killed and a further 80 or more injured. Some local media reports claim that over 200 houses have bee destroyed and around 400 severely damaged. Flooding was also reported in the Afar region, where at least 5 people have died.
Jigjiga Hospital. The death toll reached 15. Jigjiga floads pic.twitter.com/ZAeNxG5uhH
— Abdirizak Atosh (@abdirizakatosh) April 4, 2016
— Adnan Yusuf (@Admoyu) April 5, 2016
— Raasonews24 Media (@raasonews24) April 4, 2016
On Saturday, 02 April, Arba Minch in Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR), recorded 35 mm of rain in 24 hours.
The next day, Sunday 03 April, Addis Ababa recorded 23mm of rain in 24 hours, which is more than a quarter of the average rainfall expected for the entire month of April. The average monthly rainfall total for April is 82 mm, according to WMO.
On Monday 04 April, 54 mm of rainfall was recorded 24 hours later at Harar Meda which is 60 km southeast of Addis, and 49 mm of rain fell during the same period at Awassa located further south in the Great Rift Valley. Awassa had already recorded 19 mm of rain the previous day. The average total rainfall for April in Awassa is 147 mm, according to WMO.
Bale Robe, in the Oromia Region, recorded 58 mm of rain in 24 hours between 06 and 07 April, 2016. The average total rainfall for April in Bale Robe is 146 mm.
Light to moderate rain has been forecast for the next few days. The Ethiopian Meteorological Agency said:
“The incursion of moist air is expected to slightly strengthen across eastern and southern Ethiopia. Hence, light to heavy rainshowers are expected over many places of eastern and southern Oromia, SNNPR and northern Somali.
“Moreover, eastern Amhara, eastern and southern Tigray, central and western Oromia, Afar and southern Somali will have light to moderate rain showers in some places.”
Worst Drought in Decades
The rain will come as some relief after months of severe drought, said to be the worst in Ethiopia for half a century.
European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) report that Ethiopia has been badly affected by the El Niño phenomenon which has caused extreme weather across the African continent. ECHO say:
“The country is experiencing its worst drought in 50 years following two failed rainy seasons. One quarter of the population is affected and more than 10 million people are in need of emergency assistance. This number could increase if the spring rains are further delayed. Nearly 550,000 people are internally displaced as a result of clashes over scarce resources, floods and more recently the worsening drought. In the most affected areas, up to 90% of crops were lost and hundreds of thousands of livestock have died leading to food insecurity, malnutrition and diseases.”
Since the winter of 2015, the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) has so far allocated nearly €70 million funding to respond to the El Niño-induced drought, and support the refugees and internally displaced people.
According to the World Health Organization, who launched their “WHO’s Humanitarian Response Plans 2016” in Geneva earlier this week, over 8 million people in the country will require food assistance. WHO say:
“Ethiopia is experiencing one of its worst droughts in decades. Government estimates of people needing food assistance rose from 4.5 million people in August 2015 to 8.2 million in October. Some regions experienced between 50 and 90% crop loss. Lack of rainfall and subsequent drought have caused an increase in humanitarian needs, which are expected to continue through much of 2016.
“Lives are at risk due to the lack of food and water and the risk of disease outbreaks.”
Reporting by Benard Juma, with additional reporting and editing by Richard Davies.