Rainfall in parts of the Horn of Africa. © WFP
After dry and hot weather conditions in January and February and a corresponding prolongation of the drought in the Horn of Africa, seasonal rains from March to May started on time in equatorial areas of the region and earlier than normal in Somalia. Beginning in mid-March, parts of Ethiopia, South Sudan, southern Somalia, and most parts of Kenya experienced heavy rains.
As is all too often the case, the heavy rains led to flash flooding in some places. Nearly 240,000 people in Ethiopia and 175,000 in Somalia, 140,000 of whom had to flee their homes, have been affected by the floods. In South Sudan, the ongoing seasonal rains combined with inflows from the Ethiopian highlands and East Africa pose a risk of flooding along the Nile River. There is particular concern in parts of Jonglei and Unity states, where flooding has already occurred in recent years (we reported) and could be exacerbated by the April and May rains.
On a positive note, the rains have brought some recovery to water resources in northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia. However, in parts of southern Somalia and southeastern Ethiopia, the situation has not improved significantly as water points are still in poor condition due to the long drought.
Livestock in drought-affected areas also continue to fare poorly, affecting livestock production and the availability of milk for families. Livestock condition is expected to improve somewhat as pasture and water become more readily available. However, this may take time. To make matters worse, animals that are currently in weak condition are especially susceptible to rainfall-related disease outbreaks.
Rainfall forecasts for the remainder of the rainy season are not yet very conclusive. However, it is clear that the humanitarian situation in the Horn of Africa remains precarious, despite the intense rains, and that humanitarian assistance must continue and the resilience of drought- and flood-affected populations must be strengthened.
You can find more detailed information on the current situation in the Horn of Africa in this report by the World Food Program, which also served as a source for the information above.
(1) European Commission’s Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations ECHO, https://erccportal.jrc.ec.europa.eu/ECHO-Products/Echo-Flash#/daily-flash-archive/4758
(2) United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs OCHA, https://reliefweb.int/report/somalia/somalia-gu-rainy-season-2023-flash-floods-update-no-3-13-april-2023