News / Africa

Less Severe Drought Forecast For Horn of Africa

Kenya's Turkana region shows effects of severe drought affecting Horn of Africa
Kenya's Turkana region shows effects of severe drought affecting Horn of Africa

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says the Horn Of Africa can look forward to weaker drought conditions in the coming months.  In its latest El Nino/La Nina update, the WMO says near neutral or weak La Nina conditions, which lessen the severity of drought, are the most likely scenarios for the rest of 2011.

The El Nino and La Nina phenomena, which occur in the tropical Pacific, have a significant impact upon weather and climate around the globe. The World Meteorological Organization says there is a possibility that La Nina conditions, where sea surface temperatures cool, may re-emerge over the coming months.  But, if this happens, it says the event is likely to be much weaker than the moderate to strong La Nina, which prevailed in 2010 and ended in May 2011.

That La Nina was linked to disastrously wet conditions in parts of Australia, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, and portions of northern South America. At the same time, it caused drought in East Africa.

WMO Climate Expert Rupa Kumar Kolli says if La Nina re-emerges it would result in rainfall, which is either normal or below normal.  This, he tells VOA, could potentially spell bad news for East Africa but he adds that drought conditions are still likely to be less severe than in the past two years.

“There is reason to be concerned about the situation. But, at the same time, even if La Nina occurs, the current indications are that it is likely to be weak and is not going to be anywhere close to the moderate to strong La Nina that we have seen last year," said Kolli. "In that sense, even if it is slightly below normal, it is really not alarming and it is very unlikely that we will see a very severe drought condition to happen in Eastern Africa.”

Somali's wait for food aid to be handed out from the UNHCR in Mogadishu , Wednesday. Aug. 31.2011
Somali's wait for food aid to be handed out from the UNHCR in Mogadishu , Wednesday. Aug. 31.2011

More than 12 million people in Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia are struggling to cope with the worst drought to hit the Horn of Africa in 60 years. People in Somalia are particularly hard hit as they try to survive the twin disasters of conflict and drought.  The United Nations has declared several regions in southern Somalia to be famine zones.

Kolli says the drought in the Horn of Africa came as no surprise to meteorologists.  He says the impact resulting from the La Nina event was expected and he says regional weather centers warned countries of the severity of the drought that was looming.

Once countries have been warned of a possible weather-related disaster, he tells VOA it is up to their governments to take appropriate measures to try to lessen the expected impact.

“Famines are man-made, whereas droughts are natural parts of the system. So, the drought warnings were given sufficiently in advance to the policy makers,".Kolli added. "But, the famine conditions are a combination of the drought and other factors, which actually create a situation where people have no access to food.”  

WMO Climate Expert Kolli says meteorologists are trying to improve ways of getting policy makers to take their warnings more seriously. He says they are trying to see how they can better communicate weather and climate information. He says it is important to make policy makers understand they must take appropriate decisions based on the regional forecasts they receive.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs