Farmers inspect a farm where floods destroyed crops in western Rwanda. FILE PHOTO | CYRIL
By Nita Karume:
Eastern Africa will continue to grapple with food shortages because of the floods. Over the past weekend, a series of small Kenyan dams collapsed, killing five people. These become the latest victims of the floods that began around the main wet season in March. The floods are also responsible for deaths in Rwanda, Ethiopia, Somalia and Tanzania. So heavy are the floods that they carry away not only livestock, but also houses and entire villages as well. Transport systems have also been interrupted.
The Food and Agriculture Organization land and water officer Valere Nzeyimana said that the floods have worsened the already alarming situation that is food security. This flooding comes barely a year after eastern Africa faced its worst drought in 60 years. This, on the other hand, left more than 11 million people in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia in need of food aid. Furthermore, Kenya suffered a slump in maize production. This affected the country’s strategic grain reserve to less than a day’s supply. It also caused shortages of products such as sugar and milk.
In Kenya, a record 21,000 acres of crops-and counting- have been destroyed, with 20,000 animals swept away and irrigation systems damaged. This is according to media reports. Similarly, Rwanda lost up to 12,355 acres of crops. That is besides the destruction of farming infrastructure.
Nzeyimana said grain storage and drying facilities in rural areas had also been flooded. This has also affected crops that had been harvested prior.
However, media reports have it that there may be little relief later in the year. However, there’s an increasing chance during the October to December short rains season of an impact from the El Nino. This, according to FAO, could lead to droughts in parts of the world and floods elsewhere.