All you need to know about the impending El Niño rains

Kenya is likely to experience an El Nino season in the October to December short rain season in some parts of the country. The rainfall is expected to continue until January 2024. The last time Kenya experienced such conditions was in 2006, and the worst El Nino season occurred in 1997. Hellen Aura explains this forecast of heavy showers.

The Kenya Meteorological Department indicates that the above-average rainfall will be caused by the Indian Ocean dipole, which is defined by the difference in sea surface temperatures between two areas. This phenomenon is favorable for enhanced rainfall over most of the East African region. All parts of the country are expected to experience above-normal rainfall during this season, with a peak expected in November.

Arid and semi-arid counties like Turkana, Samburu, and Northeastern counties are likely to experience highly enhanced rainfall, with places like Wajir and Mandera also expecting extended rainfall into January 2024. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has warned that El Nino will return this year following a three-year La Nina.

La Nina involves the cooling of sea surface temperatures across the East Central equatorial Pacific and stronger East Winds. The Kenya Meteorological Department says that this season’s El Nino may be comparable to the one experienced in 1997.

Looking back at history, the last time Kenya experienced an El Nino was in 2006, resulting in significant loss of life and billions of Shillings in losses. So, what should Kenyans expect?

In the Western belt, farmers should anticipate post-harvest losses. On the other hand, the Ministry of Agriculture predicts enhanced agricultural production in some parts of the Western and Eastern regions, leading to more affordable agricultural food commodities and improved food security. Additionally, there will be greater availability of water to support farming and geothermal power generation.

However, some parts of the country are likely to experience landslides and flooding. If not properly managed, this could result in loss of life. Education may also be affected in certain areas, as schools could flood and learning materials may be destroyed.

This situation arises as Kenya is emerging from one of the worst droughts in 40 years. In the months to come, another dry spell is expected, leading to further water shortages. It is crucial to reignite the conversation on water harvesting and implement measures to mitigate this foreseeable crisis.

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