1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

El Nino-induced floods ravage East Africa

Nasra Bishumba (AFP, Reuters)May 9, 2016

Landslides in Rwanda caused by heavy rainfall killed 49 people and another building collapsed in Kenya. Experts blame the El Nino weather phenomenon for catastrophic incidents in four East African countries.

Überschwemmungen in Paraguay Asuncion Reuters/J. Adorno/Files
Image: Reuters/J. Adorno/Files

Countries across East Africa are facing devastating effects of the El Nino weather phenomenon. Several nations reported much heavier rainfall this rainy season, which many experts say is due to changing weather patterns.

El Nino-induced rainfalls have already wrecked havocs in Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and over the weekend, Rwanda. Southern Africa has also not been spared with output of the staple maize crop cut by nearly half.

Landslides in Rwanda

Rwandan authorities said the landslides killed at least 49 people and nearly 500 homes were destroyed. The authorities also reported that infrastructures were also damaged and 26 people injured.

"During the night of 7-8 May 2016, heavy rains caused landslides in several parts of Rwanda, resulting in loss of lives, and destructing of homes, infrastructure and other property," a government statement said. The worst affected district was Gakenke in the north, where 34 people were killed. 15 others died and 26 were injured in western parts of the country.

Kenia Einsturz Gebäudekomplex nach schweren Regenfällen Copyright: Getty Images/AFP/STR
A number major cities in Kenya have seen heavy flooding leading to the collapsing of buildingsImage: Getty Images/AFP/STR

Rwanda is used to experiencing landslides, but experts say due to El Nino, the effect is different this time around. At least 67 people have been killed from January to April.

Nasra Bishumba, a DW correspondent in the capital Kigali, reported heavy mudslide debris has blocked the roads linking Kigali to the northern and southern parts of the country. "There is less movements in Kigali," Bishumba said. "The rains fell for two days and clearing the roads may take twice as much," she added.

Flash floods in Kenya

Kenya also saw heavy downpour of torrential rains causing flash floods in the capital Nairobi and other major cities. A residential building collapsed in Nairobi late April after days of flooding, killing at least 50 people. In the coastal city of Mombasa, a six-store building extension of a shopping center also collapsed on Monday.

The Kenyan Red Cross said on its Twitter handle that the cause of the collapse has not yet been identified but did not rule out El Nino.

The World Food Program said on Monday that El Nino is progressing toward a potential "regional emergency" which may require a coordinated international response.

Simbabwe Dürre Maisfeld Copyright: picture alliance/Photoshot
The World Food Program warms crop failures, due to El-Nino-induced drought, could lead to sever food shortages in east and southern AfricaImage: picture alliance/Photoshot

From severe drought to heavy rainfall in Ethiopia

In the southern regions of Ethiopia, an area of special concern for relief agencies, floods and failed rains have led to crops failure. The United Nations reported that a year of drought had pushed about 10.2 million Ethiopians into dire conditions needing food aid to survive.

"A drought like this is unheard of," said Mohamed Aden, leader of the small village of Derela in Ethiopia. In two years, three consecutive seasons of rains were abnormally low, a situation attributed to El Nino.

Ethiopia was hit by one disaster after another. After a year of drought, the rains finally arrived but made the roads impassable for the delivery of food aid.

Simbabwe Dürre Copyright: picture-alliance/AP Photo/T. Mukwazhi
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/T. Mukwazhi

The government of Ethiopia and aid agencies say more than 10 million Ethiopians are in desperate need of urgent food aid. A total of $1.4 billion (1.2 billion euros) is needed to deal with the crisis, but only half of the amount has been secured.

Southern Africa also affected

On Monday, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) said it has raised $70 million since February for humanitarian aid for drought-stricken Zimbabwe. But the UN agency said it is still in need of $290 million until March next year to help Zimbabweans.

El Nino puts Ethiopia in dire straights

Nasra Bishumba contributed this report