NAIROBI, July 17 (Xinhua) -- The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Climate Prediction and Applications Center (ICPAC) warned on Monday that there is a high likelihood of El Nino occurring in East Africa during the rainy season between October and December.
ICPAC noted that currently, the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), a phenomenon that causes heavy rains, is in a neutral phase, but this is set to change towards the October period.
"There is a high chance of enhanced rainfall, which could provide some relief to areas affected by the recent drought, although it will take years for them to fully recover given the severity of the drought," the agency said in a statement.
The increased rainfall, it added, could also lead to more extreme weather events such as flash floods, riverine floods, mudslides and landslides.
"These events could cause damage to farmlands and crops, leading to post-harvest losses and a tightening of food supply in the coming months. Additionally, important infrastructure like roads and bridges may be destroyed, limiting access to food and essential non-food items," the regional body said.
According to ICPAC, though there might be improved pastures for livestock, there is also an elevated risk of livestock deaths, exacerbated by diseases such as Rift Valley Fever and pneumonia. Furthermore, existing human disease outbreaks such as cholera, measles and malaria will likely worsen with the impact of flooding, aggravating acute malnutrition, it added.
"Therefore, it is crucial for governments and humanitarian organizations to ensure that early warning information reaches all, and contingency planning is in place," the institution said, adding that along with national meteorological and hydrological services, it will continuously monitor the progress of the weather event and provide forecasts regarding the expected impacts throughout the upcoming months.
East Africa, especially the Horn of Africa, is currently emerging from the worst drought in 40 years after rains failed for four consecutive seasons.
An occurrence of El Nino would worsen plight of millions still grappling with drought effects as climate change effects hit harder.