Heavy rains and floods have killed scores of people and displaced hundreds of thousands of others across eastern Africa in recent weeks, governments and the United Nations said, underscoring the intensifying climatic hazards in a politically and economically tumultuous region.
At least 179 people have been killed in countries including Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, according to the U.N. and government agencies, and some regional authorities believe the figures are most likely higher.
The torrential rains, which have devastated other nations including Burundi, Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda, have affected more than 3 million people in a region that was already reeling from its worst drought in four decades.
Since 2020, the drought conditions, aggravated by climate change, have decimated crops and livestock and left millions of people hungry and malnourished, and hundreds of children dead.
The United Nations has attributed the heavier-than-usual rains to two climatic events: the El Nino phenomenon, which originates in the equatorial Pacific Ocean and whose conditions release additional heat into the atmosphere, and a similar phenomenon known as the Indian Ocean Dipole.
The floods have damaged homes, bridges and schools, according to aid agencies, who have warned of an uptick in disease outbreaks, including cholera and malaria.
In Somalia, where the floods have affected 1.7 million people, the government declared a state of emergency in October. The U.N. said the country was facing “once-in-a-century flooding.”
The floods have so far killed at least 96 people in the country, according to Farhan Jimale, the government spokesperson.
In Kenya, the heavy downpours have killed more than 60 people, according to the U.N. Thousands of people have been displaced in towns and cities across the west and the northeast, too, while entire neighborhoods were submerged in the coastal county of Mombasa this month, according to the Kenya Red Cross.
Similar devastation has unfolded in neighboring countries including Ethiopia, where the pummeling rain has submerged large portions of land in several regions underwater, according to the U.N.
Thousands of homes have flooded across Sudan in recent weeks, even as millions flee a seven-month civil war. The rising waters have displaced thousands more in parts of South Sudan, a landlocked nation already burdened by years of violence and malnutrition.