Drought warning as La Nina develops over Pacific Ocean

Director Kenya Meteorological Department Peter Ambenje. photo | Salaton Njau | nmg
Director Kenya Meteorological Department Peter Ambenje. photo | Salaton Njau | nmg 

The environment ministry has warned of dry weather as La Nina phenomenon continues to develop over the Equatorial Pacific Ocean.

La Nina, characterised by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific, is linked to prolonged dry spell in East Africa.

Environment and Forestry Principal Secretary Charles Sunkuli said they were monitoring the phenomenon to inform decision making.

“Useful information will enable formulation of contingency plans to reduce any potential impacts,” Mr Sunkuli said when he opened the 48th Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (GHACOF) at the Whitesands Hotel in Mombasa.

The forum comes even as parts of the region are experiencing drought.

Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) director Guleid Artan said some six million people in Somalia will face extreme drought in the next few months.

“The situation in Somalia is dire. In South Sudan it’s more of conflict than droughts but we expect serious famine,” said Dr Artan.

He said the meeting will help Africa put in place measures to minimise social and economic effects on communities.

“An outlook of what the season will be for the long rain season is needed. Where droughts are predicted we need to have adequate preparations,” he added.

The experts will today release the climate outlook statement for the coming season. The document will be used by policy makers to address climate related disasters.

According to experts report, depressed rainfall is likely to continue in the 2018 season in most of Greater Horn of Africa.

“The onset of the October to December 2017 seasonal rainfall was delayed in several parts of the region. At the same time it ended earlier than anticipated,” reads the report.

The region had received less than 75 per cent of their long term average rainfall as was forecasted in the 47th Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum in August 2017.
Director Kenya Meteorological Department Peter Ambenje said the predictions had helped in averting climatic crisis.