Ethiopia

Ethiopia: Pastoralists welcome rains in Somali Region

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ADDIS ABABA, 25 April (IRIN) - The Somali Regional State of southern Ethiopia has seen some of the heaviest rains for 50 years in certain parts of the area, local sources told IRIN on Thursday.
Despite damage caused by the heavy rains, the pastoralists who live in the area have welcomed the downpours. The Somali Region is one of the driest and most inhospitable places in the world, and so the rains are vital for the survival of families living there. The rainfall levels are also used to accurately forecast any future droughts that may affect the region.

Some towns in the region have also been cut off due to the torrential rains, but aid agencies say more rain is needed across the entire region. "It could be wider spread," said one expert familiar with the region. "And it has to continue. It is too early to say it is uniformly good. Let's wait and see."

"It is always important to wait and see the satellite imagery, which in the past has shown us that some areas did not get enough rain," he added.

In Gode -- scene of the 2000 famine which caused thousands of deaths -- there have been heavy rains with vehicles unable to get to the town. The World Food Programme, United Nations Children's Fund and Ethiopia's Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Bureau have been drawing up contingency plans to deal with the floods and help families in need. But the rains have made many of the roads impassable, meaning that there could be delays in getting aid to the needy.

One area hit by particularly heavy rains is Warder -- in eastern Somali Region. "Warder Zone received very heavy, non-sporadic torrential rains which have destroyed temporary shelters and houses, killed animals and broken the banks of natural ponds," a local source told IRIN.

Elders in the zone say they have never seen this type of rain before. But the rains have damaged houses in the area, including shelters for internally displaced people (IDPs) living there. Aid agencies have been working to get food to the most needy.

Local sources also confirm that rain is falling in other areas of the region such as Jijiga, Degeh Bur, Korahe, Shinile and Liben. On some days, it rained continuously for more than eight hours, they said.

[ENDS]

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