Where wasn’t it raining cats and dogs around Africa this summer?
In eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, dozens of villagers’ homes in Ituri province were submerged last week in a landslide which struck the village of Toro, causing the deaths of more than 40 people.
It followed heavy rains in the fishing community located along Lake Albert.
“There are many people submerged whom we were unable to save,” Pacifique Keta, the vice governor of Ituri province, where Tora lies, told Reuters by telephone. “The rescue is very complicated because there are mountains everywhere, which makes it very difficult to have access.”
In eastern Kenya and Tanzania, seasonal rains have come with a vengeance. Heavy and steady torrential downpours have many areas under water, leaving at least nine people dead.
Widespread disruption was reported in Mombasa, Kenya’s second-largest city after the capital Nairobi, with an estimated population of about 1.2 million people.
According to the Famine Early Warning System Network on the website Reliefweb, above-normal rainfall since July has elevated the risk for flooding in southeastern Sudan and parts of western Ethiopia. Heavy rainfall is forecast for mid to late August.
With well above-average moisture conditions in place since early July, rainfall in mid-August may trigger additional flooding throughout Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, and Guinea.
Exceptional rainfalls on the continent were observed at the same time as a U.S. National Climate Assessment final draft forcefully states that the fruits of a changing climate are already here.
“Heat waves, heavy downpours, and sea level rise pose growing challenges to many aspects of life in the Northeast,” according to the report posted online. “Infrastructure, agriculture, fisheries, and ecosystems will be increasingly compromised. Many states and cities are beginning to incorporate climate change into their planning.” The 15 member committee that helps translate scientific research into policy was disbanded by the President just this week.
Finally, the Africa Hazards Outlook for Aug 17-Aug 23, predicts above normal precipitation and an elevated risk for flooding in southeastern Sudan and parts of Ethiopia.
“Tackling persistent flooding requires long-term planning,” said Nigeria’s town planning expert Aliyu Salisu Barau. “In most cases the authorities do not make provision to clear drainage systems until it is already rainy season,” he added.
Destruction to property can be reduced by introducing effective town planning, respecting construction rules and regulations, and rooting out corruption in the building certification process. w/pix of Lagos, Nigeria flooding