Tanzania’s 2023 El Niño Outlook: What to Expect and How to Prepare

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In a recent announcement, the Tanzania Meteorological Authority (TMA) predicted the possibility of a seasonal rainfall outlook. Most parts of the country are set to receive above-normal to normal rains during the season from October to December 2023, which is expected to be influenced by El Niño conditions.

TMA has announced that this situation is specifically expected to occur in areas that receive rain twice a year, including the Northern Eastern Highlands and a few areas of the Eastern Lake Victoria region.

Areas Warned Against El Niño Conditions

The regions expected to receive the rains caused by El Niño include Kagera, Geita, Mwanza, Shinyanga, and Simiyu in the south; Kigoma in the north; Dar es Salaam; Tanga; Pwani (including the Mafia Islands); the north of Morogoro; and the islands of Unguja and Pemba.

While regions like Mara, Simiyu in the north, Arusha, Manyara, and Kilimanjaro are expected to receive moderate to above-average rains. However, TMA has also warned that there is a risk of flooding in some areas.

What is El Niño?  

According to the Tanzania Meteorological Authority (TMA), El Niño is a climate pattern that describes the unusual warming of surface waters in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.

This warming can cause changes in atmospheric circulation patterns and weather patterns. An El Niño event is usually confirmed when sea surface temperatures in the eastern tropical Pacific rise to at least 0.5°C above normal and long-term averages.

The El Niño event is related to the warming of the Pacific Ocean waters that occur every three to eight years and last for 9-12 months, according to experts.

However, since the year 1900, there have been at least 30 El Niño events in the world, with the El Niño events of 1982-83, 1997-98, and 2014-16 setting records and causing significant harm.

In the 2000s, Tanzania El Niño events occurred in 2002–03, 2004–05, 2006–07, 2009–10, 2014–16, 2018–19, and now in 2023, it has begun, with its peak expected between September 2023 and February 2024.

El Niño can have a wide range of impacts on various sectors in Tanzania, including agriculture, water resources, human health, and energy. For example, El Niño-induced flooding can damage crops and livestock, leading to food shortages and higher food prices. El Niño-induced drought can also lead to water shortages, which can impact households, businesses, and the environment.

Impacts on Agriculture: Research from Frontier Environmental Science that El Niño is impacting agriculture by inducing droughts that lead to crop failures and livestock deaths, resulting in food shortages and higher food prices. El Niño-induced flooding can damage crops and livestock, and also disrupt transportation and distribution networks.

Impacts on Human Health: A growing body of scientific evidence supports the link between El Niño and human health. For example, a 2018 report by the World Health Organization found that El Niño events are associated with an increased risk of various health problems, including infectious diseases, malnutrition, heat stress, and respiratory diseases.

Impacts on Energy: The impacts of El Niño on energy are complex and varied. However, it is clear that El Niño has a significant impact on the energy sector, both directly and indirectly.

A 2023 study by the World Resources Institute found that El Niño could cause wind droughts and storms, which would have a significant effect on renewable energy production, such as wind, hydropower generation, and solar resources in the region.

Additionally, a 2020 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that El Niño events are likely to become more frequent and intense in the future due to climate change, which could have a significant impact on the global energy system.

Impacts on Infrastructure: El Niño-induced flooding can lead to damage to infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, and railways. This disrupts transportation and communication networks and makes it difficult to provide essential services to communities.

Individual Preparation Against El Niño

In short, apart from the measures taken by the country’s authorities to monitor this event and provide regular information and measures to take, the common citizen also has a responsibility to prepare and take precautions to avoid being affected by the effects. Some measures recommended by experts include:

Paying attention to the weather information provided by the weather authority in your country, for example, the Tanzania Meteorological Authority (TMA).

This is essential for staying informed about the latest forecasts and warnings and for making informed decisions to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Seeking, obtaining, and considering the advice of experts in the relevant sector to reduce the effects of bad weather. This could include experts in agriculture, water management, disaster preparedness, or other relevant fields.

  • Avoid being in dangerous places such as areas prone to water currents and electricity: Especially during periods of rain and strong winds. This is common sense, but it’s important to remember that it increases the risk of landslides, flooding, and other hazards.
  • Moving to valley areas: This helps reduce the risk of flooding and other hazards.
  • Always have a stock of food, money, water, medicine (with instructions), and a first aid kit: This is essential for being prepared for any emergency, including related events.
  • Helping your neighbors in an emergency: This is not only the right thing to do but also helps create a stronger sense of community.
  • Having contact with emergency service providers, your neighbors, and your local leaders: This helps you get the help you need quickly if an emergency occurs.
  • Sharing important information: This helps raise awareness of the potential impacts and encourages others to prepare.
  • Reporting any emergency to the authorities: Also this helps the authorities respond to emergencies more effectively.

Government Steps, Preparation Against El Niño

Various efforts and strategies have been ongoing to educate the public in different regions. For example, in Dar es Salaam, regional leaders and experts started a two-day training on September 25, 2023, to prepare themselves to deal with the effects that may occur in the event of heavy rains falling in the near future according to the forecast.

In Morogoro region, various measures have been taken, including building new small and large bridges and removing hard waste, sand, and soil from the infrastructure to ensure that water can flow as required without causing inconvenience to the citizens.

The manager of TANROADS in Morogoro region, Engineer Alinanuswe Kyamba, stated that, while discussing the implementation of the Minister of Construction Innocent Bashungwa’s order, all TANROADS Regional Managers should take early steps to prevent the effects that may arise from the rains, as warned by TMA.

The Assistant Administrative Secretary of the Economy and Production Section, Emily Kasagara, has called on disaster stakeholders in Mwanza Region to thoroughly prepare to deal with the disaster of rains that are expected to fall in the near future to protect the community.

It is important for individuals and communities to be prepared for the potential impacts by taking steps to protect themselves and their loved ones. The Tanzanian government is also taking steps to prepare for the effects.

Find and read more Climate change insights here.

A digital personnel and Content Producer who has made a significant impact on media outlets with his exceptional writing skills. He is passionate about creating informative content and conducting research. Salvius obtained his degree in Journalism and Mass Communication at St. Augustine University of Tanzania, where he gained valuable experience through internships at Mwananchi Communication Newspaper. Salvius worked as a news editor and article reviewer at Scooper, also The south African website as the article writer, further refining his skills. Salvius's outstanding work in the field of digital journalism was recognized by Reuters which awarded him a digital journalism certificate. Salvius also is an environmental influence.

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