Global Warming Causing African Floods, Experts Say

Alexis Okeowo in Kampala, Uganda
for National Geographic News
October 29, 2007

Twenty-two African countries are experiencing their worst wet seasons in decades, and climate experts say that global warming is to blame.

Devastating rains and flash floods have affected 1.5 million people across the continent, killing at least 300 since early summer.

West Africa has seen its most severe floods in years, as torrents swamped the Democratic Republic of the Congo's capital of Kinshasa last week, killing 30 people in less than 24 hours.

In northern Ghana, more than 300,000 people have been uprooted by devastating downpours.

In East Africa, meanwhile, hundreds of thousands have been displaced and scores killed in Uganda, Sudan, Kenya, and Ethiopia (see map).

As the rains continue, African meteorologists are warning that these events may be fulfilling predictions that the continent will suffer some of the worst effects of global warming.

"Africa will be the hardest hit by climate change," said Grace Akumu, director of the Kenya-based nonprofit Climate Network Africa.

"This is happening even faster than expected."

Rising Waters

Uganda declared a state of emergency in September after at least 400,000 people were left homeless and hungry by torrential rains and floods in the northern and eastern parts of the country (see map).

The floods were of little surprise to scientists studying the effects of global warming here, said Philip Gwage, Uganda's deputy commissioner of meteorology. "We certainly expected the increased frequency of floods and droughts," he said.

Nonetheless many people in Uganda, and most other African countries, were unprepared for these severe events, he said.

Continued on Next Page >>




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