Worst El Nino coming - TMA

TMA Director General Dr Agnes Kijazi
 One of the strongest and wettest El Ninos will soon pummel Tanzania, bringing heavy rains, floods and waterborne diseases.
The Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA) told journalists in Dar es Salaam yesterday this could be the biggest El Nino on record experienced in East Africa since 1997. 
The agency’s directorate of meteorological services said yesterday that the El Nino would likely unleash “fury and destruction” of magnitude much like occurred in 1997.
“There is a greater than 90 per cent chance of the weather phenomenon wreaking havoc until the short rains, with 80 per cent likelihood of lasting until April, this year,” it noted.
It underlined the need for the country to prepare for massive devastation “as record El Nino rains will start falling any time from now right to April”.
TMA Director General Dr Agnes Kijazi meanwhile said this year’s rains, which will likely double the 1997 El Nino ones that destroyed roads, washed away homes, bridges and farms, would likely cause famine, waterborne diseases and render thousands of people homeless.
“It’s important that the public be prepared for the worst flooding ever,” Dr Kijazi said in the city when opening a Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Mitigation (CCIAM) programme meeting that climate change was the reason behind the development.
In 1997, El Nino rains, which were described by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation as the biggest on record in the region, induced floods that left dozens of people dead and rendered thousands homeless.
The rains, which pounded several East African countries including Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda, rendered a record 10 million people requiring emergency food aid. 
Dr Kijazi warned that a repeat of the scenario was likely this year “as temperatures over the Pacific Ocean have already risen by 2 degrees centigrade”. 
“Climate change impacts are vivid and are posing many challenges which are continuing to manifest themselves in many countries, including Tanzania, and have impacted socio-economic sectors and the livelihoods of most people, particularly those sensitive to changes in weather and climate patterns,” she said.
“In addressing such challenges, it is important to enhance human capacity development, encouraging creativity and innovation among scientists so as to come up with solutions through research,” she noted.
“Through the CCIAM project, TMA has enhanced its human capacity as two employees were sponsored for specialised doctorate studies and five for master’s degree courses,” said Dr Kijazi, adding: “The knowledge they acquired will enhance TMA capacity to give better services and therefore achieve the project’s objectives.”
The 1997/98 El Nino rains, which began falling in November 1997 and lasted through March 1998, devastated most parts of Mara, Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Tanga and Shinyanga regions.
“In the country’s central and southern parts, where cereal crops of the 1998 main season were at the developing stage, crop losses to floods in low-lying areas of Iringa and Mbeya regions may be significant this time around,” warned Dr Kijazi.
“However, the abundant precipitation of the past months has been generally beneficial and, if favourable weather prevail in the remainder of the growing season, production may recover from the poor level of 1997,” an FAO report dated February 1998 says.
The five-year CCIAM-funded research, capacity building and student exchange programme was launched in November 2009 and is implemented jointly by the Morogoro-based Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) and Norway’s UMB.
Other Tanzanian institutions engaged in the project are the University of Dar es Salaam, Ardhi University and TMA.
The Norwegian University of Life Sciences is the main partner from the Norwegian side – through its Department of International Environment and Development Studies (Noragric). 
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