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Cablegate: Horn of Africa El Nino Regional

INFO LOG-00 AF-00 AGRE-00 A-00 CA-00 CIAE-00 INL-00
DODE-00 DS-00 EAP-00 EUR-00 UTED-00 VCI-00 OBO-00
H-00 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00 LAB-01 MOFM-00 MOF-00
VCIE-00 DCP-00 NSAE-00 OIC-00 NIMA-00 EPAU-00 PA-00
GIWI-00 SP-00 IRM-00 FMP-00 CBP-00 EPAE-00 SCRS-00
DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00 FA-00 SWCI-00
PESU-00 SANA-00 /001W

R 280850Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 1107
INFO AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
AMEMBASSY ASMARA
AMEMBASSY DJIBOUTI
AMEMBASSY KAMPALA
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
USMISSION USUN ROME IT
USMISSION GENEVA
USEU BRUSSELS
NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS NAIROBI 002029


AIDAC

USAID/DCHA JBRAUSE
DCHA/OFDA FOR PMORRIS; ACONVERY; KCHANNELL; MBEERS;
APIYAKA DCHA/FFP JBORNS; JDWORKEN; SANTHONY; CMUTAMBA;
DNELSON;
USAID/AFR/EA JESCALONA
USUN FOR DMERCADO
ROME FOR HSPANOS
GENEVA FOR NKYLOH
BRUSSELS FOR USEU JADDLETON; PBROWN
NSC FOR CPRATT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PHUM PREL PREF KE
SUBJECT: HORN OF AFRICA EL NINO REGIONAL
PROJECTIONS.

-------
Summary
-------

1. The recently concluded Intergovernmental Authority
on Development (IGAD) in East Africa Climate Outlook
Forum confirmed the presence of the El Nino weather
phenomenon in the greater Horn of Africa region. El
Nino conditions are expected to result in normal to
above-normal rainfall during the upcoming September to
December rainfall season in the region, positively
impacting agriculture and food security but also
potentially resulting in flooding, reduced access, and
increased incidences of human and livestock water-
related diseases. Humanitarian organizations operating
in the region are developing contingency plans,
including the pre-positioning of humanitarian stocks
and identification of alternative transport options to
mitigate the impact of flooding. USAID?s Office of
U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) maintains
flexible programming mechanisms with existing
implementing partners to facilitate rapid response
capacity and continues to closely monitor flood-prone
areas in the region. End summary.

-----------------
Regional Overview
-----------------

2. According to IGAD, El Nino conditions are projected
to result in normal to above-normal rainfall during the
September to December rainy season in the region.
Rains are expected to start on time in most of the
October to December rainfall?dependent areas, intensify
in November, and extend into early 2010. Increased
rainfall is expected to positively impact water and
pasture availability, crop production, and associated
food insecurity, particularly in drought-affected
pastoral, agropastoral, and lowland cropping areas,
according to the USAID-supported Famine Early Warning
Systems Network (FEWS NET).

3. However, FEWS NET cautions that heavy rains are
likely to result in increased livestock mortality among
weakened animals in drought-affected areas, flooding,
infrastructure damage, reduced humanitarian and
commercial access, and increased incidents in human and
livestock water-related diseases, such as malaria,
diarrheal disease, and Rift Valley Fever (RVF). Flood-
prone areas likely to be affected include the Juba
valley in Somalia, Shabelle valley in Ethiopia and
Somalia, and the Tana River valley, coastal lowland,
and Lake Victoria basin areas in Kenya, according to
FEWS NET.

4. In late 2006, unusually heavy rainfall associated
with the last occurrence of El Nino conditions caused
widespread flooding in many parts of Ethiopia, Kenya,
and Somalia. According to the U.N. Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 2006 short
rains flooding in Kenya affected an estimated 723,000
people countrywide, accompanied by an increased
incidence of water-related diseases, and significant
damage to roads, crops, and farmland. In addition,
2006 regional flooding affected an estimated 362,000
people in Ethiopia, according to the U.N., and an
estimated 255,000 individuals in Somalia, according to
the Somalia Support Secretariat?s flood working group.
However, FEWS NET projections indicate that 2009 El
Nino conditions are likely to be mild to moderate,
compared to the moderate classification of the 2006 El
Nino season and therefore FEWS NET anticipates a
reduced impact compared to 2006.

-----
Kenya
-----

5. The Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) has
projected above-normal rainfall performance for the
North Eastern, Coast, Western, Nyanza, and central Rift
Valley provinces, and normal rainfall levels for the
remaining areas of Rift Valley, Central, and Eastern
provinces. Increased rainfall would positively impact
agriculture and food security in drought-affected
areas. However, the El Nino phenomenon is also
expected to bring heavy rains and flooding.

6. In early September, the Kenya Red Cross Society
(KRCS) shared potential 2009 short rains scenarios with
the humanitarian community to help inform contingency
and mitigation planning. Best-case scenarios
projections anticipate that flooding will affect
200,000 individuals, including the displacement of
20,000 people. In the most likely scenario, KRCS
anticipates that flooding will affect 750,000
individuals, including 150,000 refugees, and 100,000
internally displaced persons (IDPs). Flooding and
landslides are likely to occur in Muranga and Nyeri,
Central Province; Nakuru, Nandi, Baringo, and Pokot,
Rift Valley Province; Kisii, Nyanza Province; and Meru,
Eastern Province, according to KRCS. In the unlikely,
worst-case scenario, KRCS projected floods could affect
up to 2 million people, including displacement of an
estimated 200,000 individuals.

-------
Somalia
-------

7. FEWS NET reports an increased likelihood of near to
above-normal rainfall for most of Somalia during the
next October to December deyr rains. In particular,
rains are expected to be heavy in southern and central
regions where consecutive seasons of poor rainfall have
negatively affected agriculture and livestock sectors.

8. FEWS NET notes that above normal 2009 deyr rains
would end the drought in affected regions. However,
FEWS NET cautions that initial heavy rains would likely
contribute to increased mortality among weak, drought-
affected animals, further undermining pastoralist
livelihoods and food security. In addition, heavy
rains would exacerbate poor shelter conditions among
IDPs, including more than 600,000 IDPs concentrated
along the Afgooye corridor outside of Mogadishu. FEWS
NET also reports the likelihood of heavy rains in the
Ethiopian highlands, resulting in significant flooding
along the Juba and Shabelle river basins of southern
and central Somalia.

----------
Conclusion
----------

9. Elevated September to December rainfall levels
associated with El Nino conditions in the Horn of
Africa present opportunities and challenges associated
with replenished water sources, regenerated pasture,
and improved crop production, as well as potential
flooding, infrastructure damage, and increased
incidents of water-related diseases. Overall food
security for vulnerable populations in the region is
unlikely to significantly improve due to the cumulative
impact of consecutive seasons of poor rains, high food
prices, and insecurity that have contributed to asset
depletion and elevated food insecurity. In addition,
historical trends indicate that drought conditions
typically follow an El Nino season, undermining
potential short-term agricultural and pastoralist gains
from a robust short rains season. However, an enhanced
short rains season represents an opportunity to
increase short-cycle harvests if seed and fertilizer
availability is augmented, as well as an opportunity to
increase water availability through improved collection
and storage capacity.

10. Humanitarian organizations operating in the region
are preparing contingency plans to mitigate the impact
of potential flooding, including pre-positioning
emergency relief commodities and identifying
alternative transport options. On September 14, OCHA
and the Government of Kenya Ministry of State for
Special Programs hosted a consultative contingency
planning workshop to facilitate the development of a
common response strategy attended by representatives
from relevant GOK ministries, U.N. agencies, non-
governmental organizations (NGOs), and donors,
including USAID/OFDA. In addition, the U.N. World Food
Program (WFP) and the Office of the U.N. High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have drafted
contingency plans for refugee areas in northeastern and
northwestern Kenya. Flooding in 2006 affected more
than 100,000 refugees in the Dadaab refugee complex,
currently host to an estimated 290,000 refugees and
characterized by severe overcrowding and limited
service provision.

11. USAID/OFDA maintains flexible programming
mechanisms with existing implementing partners to
facilitate rapid response capacity and continues to
closely monitor flood-prone areas in the region.

RANNEBERGER.

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