East Africa: Prepare for Heavy Rains, Diseases, EAC Warned

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(File photo).

Arusha — East Africans have been warned to brace for above normal rains which can lead to increased risks and disease outbreaks.

The just released forecast by the Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook for March to May this year indicates heavier-than-normal rains which can be disastrous.

"The higher than normal rainfall would increase the risk for outbreaks of infectious diseases," said Mr James Kivuya, a senior meteorologist with the East African Community (EAC).

"The partner states should be on the alert, inform the public and put preparedness and mitigation measures in place while closely monitoring rainfall," he added.

The warning comes days after Dar es Salaam city was subjected to abnormally heavy rains which, as expected, created havoc among residents living in low lying areas.

Mr Kivuya who was speaking during a regional climate forum in Kampala,Uganda, said there were indications Tanzania would not be spared by the heavy downpour.

Already some parts of the country, specifically the western regions, experienced what he described as "above to near normal rains" between October and December last year.

Other EAC states, namely Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda reported flooding with landslides in which some lives were lost.

According to the climate predictions within East Africa in the coming few months, increased likelihood of heavier rains would be more pronounced around the Equator.

"There is an increased chance for flash and riverine flooding mainly in the flood prone areas of the EAC Partner States," Mr Kivuya was quoted saying in a statement issued by the EAC secretariat yesterday. These, according to him might trigger landslides, mudslides and enhance the risk of outbreaks of infectious diseases " with consequences for sectors such as health and agriculture including livestock,.

Diseases feared could be caused by flooding include malaria in humans and Rift Valley fever in animals and humans.

"Already, the first cases of RVF in animals and humans have been reported from Kenya. Flooding increases the risk for diarrheal diseases, like cholera, especially in low-lying areas," he said.

With the region bracing for heavy rains, weather experts in Kenya have raised a red flag over abnormally high temperatures in some parts of the country.

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