Thursday, January 12, 2012

Drought-stricken Tanzania reels under extreme rainfall

Felix Mwakyembe in AlertNet: Pius Yanda, one of the authors of a recent report on extreme weather by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), has a knowledge of his subject that goes beyond the academic. Yanda, a professor at the University of Dar es Salaam, was forced from his home last month by flooding in the nation’s largest city following the heaviest recorded rains in Tanzania’s modern history. He and five family members sought temporary refuge at a hotel in the city.

The Tanzania Meteorological Agency reported that 260 mm (10 inches) of rain fell during a continuous downpour that began on December 20 and ended two days later. On December 21 alone, Dar es Salaam received 156 mm (6 inches) of rain, the highest daily amount since 1954.

Agnes Kijazi, director general of the agency, said that while rains are expected in the last quarter of the year, these were unusually heavy.

The torrential rains affected regions across the east African nation, including Mwanza in the northwest and Kilimanjaro in the northeast, where there were landslides, as well as Dodoma in the country’s centre, and Mbeya to the south.

The flooding left around 40 people dead and thousands homeless. Policy makers are now faced with the challenge of planning to mitigate flood damage in a country that is more used to grappling with ongoing drought....

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