Rains continue to pound eastern Africa


Only two months after a long and devastating drought broke, which had parts of East Africa in an iron grip for several years, torrential rains are once again causing yet more problems for rural populations in the region. Thousands of hectares of crop land have reportedly been inundated with water, and there seems no end to the growing menace of floodings, which have destroyed roads, submerged bridges, and caused loss of lives through landslides and weather related accidents. For a while even the new road between Kabale and Kisoro, an area important to tourism especially for gorilla tracking in Uganda, was impassable due to rock and mudslides, before being cleared by the contractors.

From Rwanda, over Uganda and Kenya to Tanzania, everywhere reports are emerging of the damages done to farmers, making an upcoming shortage of the staple crops like maize ever more likely, as fields are under water and seeds have been washed away. Reportedly dozens of people have died across the region in flood and rain-related incidents and flooded areas have displaced thousands of people from their homes.

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Only recently were parts of Kampala flooded after near biblical rains, and the weather forecasts are gloomy as the meteorologists predict yet more el Nino-induced rains. These floods extended to cover the crucial road from Kampala to the international airport in Entebbe, just outside the city boundaries on the dual-carriage section of the road, and businesses and residences, like last year, were again flooded to the rooftops because of lack of drainage or blocked drainage. Travelers arriving from Entebbe into the city and passengers for departing flights were said to have been forced to wait for hours before the floods receded to a point that at least that section of the road was passable once again.

Intending visitors to the region are well advised to seek information from their safari operators about the status of roads or else switch to air safaris, which can drop off tourists within an hour’s flight from say Entebbe, Nairobi, or Arusha to even the remotest parks, reserves, and conservancies. However, no information has reached this correspondent as yet that safaris had to be abandoned as a result of rains, but better sure than sorry. In any case, leading tour and safari operators in Eastern Africa generally know how to deal with rains and the aftermath and can generally be relied upon to do the right things in the best interest of their clients.

Meanwhile, as this report is being filed, the wrath of the rain gods has again descended upon Kampala with rains coming down in such force that the nearest neighbour’s residence can hardly be seen through the torrents unleashed upon us.