The map above shows current and going natural hazards and disasters across the world. Click on each icon for further information.

Tuesday 31 January 2023

Sunday 11 July 2021

2020 East Africa Floods (January to June)

The first half of 2020 saw devastating floods affecting countries in East Africa. A combination of fluvial (river) and pluvial (surface water) flooding affected Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Somalia. Prolonged rainfall resulted in water levels rising in lakes including Lake Victoria, Lake Albert, Lake Kyoga and Lake Tanganyika causing them to burst their banks triggering further widespread floods.

Lake Victoria saw the highest level in 60 years. According to the East African Community’s Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC), water levels rose by more than two metres. Lake Albert also witnessed historical levels. You can view the water levels of lakes by following the link here. The rising lake levels led to the displacement of numerous communities as a result of the lakes breaching their banks. Weather stations recorded the highest amount of rainfall in 40 years according to UNOCHA.

In addition to the floods, torrential rainfall triggered numerous landslides and mudslides, resulting in further fatalities and destruction. Hundreds of homes and buildings including hospitals and health care facilities, infrastructure such as roads and bridges and crops were damaged or destroyed. An entire town in Somalia was washed away during a flood event. Livelihoods have been destroyed or affected significantly.

According to a report published by UN OCHA 1.3 million people were affected by the floods from March to June. This figure excluded Uganda and Rwanda, where numbers are yet to be determined.

Red Cross and other humanitarian organisations responded to the disasters. Damage assessments are being undertaken and accurate figures for some regions or countries are yet to be determined.

Heavy rainfall continued to cause widespread floods from June onwards leading to further fatalities and damage. A reported published by the OCHA in October 2020 stated that 3.6 million people were affected by floods and landslides since June 2020.


On 27 January, floods in the Iringa, Lindi and Dodoma regions caused 13 fatalities. More than 18,000 people were affected, over 62 households displaced and 1,746 houses and 1,074 latrines were destroyed. A number of schools were destroyed and there was significant damage caused to infrastructure such as roads and bridges. In addition, 495 acres of farmland was affected.

By the end of February, floods had claimed 40 lives, displaced over 15,000 people in 8,000 evacuation centres, destroyed 1,750 houses and 1074 latrines, caused widespread damage and deaths of livestock and resulted in damage to farms. In addition, 25,000 people were evacuated as a result of the Nyumba ya Mungu dam reaching its capacity and overflowing.

On 20 April, 50 houses were destroyed by landslides in Arusha and 2,700 households were left homeless in the Moshi District. In addition, 31,500 people were displaced.

Additional damage occurred in towns and cities such as Mwanza and Bukoba has result of rising water levels in Lake Victoria. Trees, beach side buildings and infrastructure were damaged, destroyed or submerged. High water levels in the lake are continuing to cause issues in these towns. In Bukoba, a makeshift wall has been constructed to prevent further flooding and damage.

Floods continued to cause destruction across Tanzania in late 2020. The cities of Dar es Salaam and Mwanza witnessed disruption and damage to infrastructure, buildings, houses and businesses in October and November 2020 as shown in the videos and photos below.

In total, 31,000 people were affected by floods in Tanzania. The Tanzanian Red Cross has been conducting assessments and assisting those that were affected in 2020. A final report was published by them in April 2021 which can be found on their website.


Floods and landslides claimed 11 lives in Uganda. A hospital was destroyed and one was damaged in Kilembe. Entire hospital wards washed away.

In addition, 80 families were displaced in the Butebo District on 17 March when houses were destroyed by floods. In April, over 200 people were displaced and on 9 May floods and landslides in the Kween District claimed 3 lives, affected 120,000 people, left over 200 families in need of aid and destroyed several houses. Furthermore, over 100,000 people were displaced in Kabale District as a result of flooding and over 3,000 people were affected in the Bundibugyo District.

On 21 May, 11 fatalities occurred in the Kasese District. 5,000 people were also displaced, houses and livestock were washed away and schools, roads, bridges, water and sanitation systems were destroyed. Estimates suggests that over 100,000 people were displaced in the Kasese District since flooding began.

In the Isingiro District, floods on 1 May led to 4 fatalities and left 3 missing and 5,000 people displaced. 2 fatalities also occurred in the Rubanda District where 31 houses were destroyed and 500 families were displaced in the Busia District. Landslides triggered by the heavy rainfall on 1 May caused damage to roads and houses in the Kabale District

The number of people affected by the floods since the beginning of the 2020 is yet to be determined.


On 30 January floods caused 1 fatality and the displacement of 117 families. In addition to transport disruption, houses and infrastructure being damaged and destroyed, the Maasai Mara National Reserve was left isolated due to the floods.

237 fatalities occurred in Kenya as a result of landslides and floods after 17 April. Additionally, 233,000 people were affected and 116,000 were displaced. Two villages were evacuated due to extremely high water levels at two dams. Water levels in the Masinga dam rose to over 10.80m.

Flooding from the Nzoia River resulted in 40,000 people being displaced. Extensive flooding affected 36 out of the 47 counties in the country. Properties, houses, infrastructure such as bridges, farms, crops and flood defence structures such as dykes were damaged or destroyed. 12 bridges were damaged and 24 footbridges were destroyed. In Tana River County, 17,143 people were displaced and more than 4,000 ha of crops were submerged. Rhamu Dimtu, Khalicha, Yabicho, Girisa, Sala, Hareri, Darika, Gadudia and Khalalio were the worst affected villages.

Rising water levels in Lake Turkana has submerged numerous villages, displacing thousands. According to reports, more than 200,000 people including fisherman have been affected by the rising water levels. Unfortunately, the displacement of communities from rising water levels from lakes is continuing through 2021.


Floods on 19 February displaced 11,000 people. In the Bubanza Province, flooding caused 3 fatalities and injured 19 people and in the Bujumbura Mairie Province more than 700 houses were damaged or destroyed. In the village of Gatumba 9,743 people were affected and 3,072 houses were damaged. 1 fatality occurred and over 50,000 people were affected by floods which occurred after March.

6 districts were affected, an estimated 27,972 people displaced and 6,010 houses damaged or destroyed in Gatumba by flooding from the Ruzizi River on 19 April. Severe weather and landslides affected 813 people in Rumonge and Bubanza provinces leading to further displacement and damage. 400 ha of crops were also damaged.

In Mutimbuzi commune, 160 houses were destroyed, 70 houses were damaged and 7,600 were flooded. 90% of the population of Gatumba were affected. Further flooding on 30 April displaced an additional 2,000 households. 813 people were affected in the Rumonge and Bubanza provinces due to severe weather and landslides.

Lake levels keep rising in Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika. In April 2021, continuing rising water levels in Lake Tanganyika has resulted in the displacement of 2,000 people in west Burundi. Furthermore, over 6,200 families were evacuated and over 30,000 people were affected.


Severe weather led to 70 fatalities on 1 May and affected 7 districts. A total of 97 lives were claimed by floods in Rwanda.


Floods resulted in 8 fatalities in Djibouti and an estimated 110,000 people were affected. The worst affected were Djibouti city and surrounding areas.


Heavy rainfall and floods caused 12 fatalities in Dire Dawa and Shabelle regions, affected 219,000 people and displaced 107,000 people. Widespread damage was caused to houses, buildings, infrastructure and crops.

Floods caused 4 fatalities, destroyed 53 houses and partially damaged 212 houses in Dire Dawa on 24 April. Further flooding on 25 April and 26 April damaged infrastructure, affected 34,507 households and displaced 15,195 households. Livestock were also affected in Jinka and a main bridge was destroyed on 4 May. The floods resulted in 34 fatalities in the country.


Flooding caused 24 fatalities, affected over 850,000 people and displaced 330,000 people in Somalia. An entire small town was washed away. Belet Weyne was the worst affected district amongst the 27 which were affected. In the Hiran region, more than 115,000 people were displaced.

Houses, agricultural infrastructure, canals and crops were damaged or destroyed, livestock killed and water supplies contaminated. In Galmudug State, 80% of shops were damaged in the town and 133 goats were killed in May. In Jubaland State, 600 farms along the River Dawa were affected. An estimated $20,0000 worth of crops were destroyed.

Further flooding on 23 August displaced 15,000 people in Belet Weyne, affected 31 villages and inundated 2,100 ha of agricultural land. 263 villages were affected and 130,000 ha of crops were inundated in Middle Shabelle.

*Note: Figures may vary as more accurate data become available.


  • Reliefweb
  • ECHO
  • Floodlist
  • Red Cross / International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
  • Tanzania Red Cross
  • Kenya Red Cross
  • Uganda Red Cross
  • Global Disaster and Coordination System (GDAC)
  • Pacific Disaster Centre (PDC)
  • NASA
  • World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
  • Preventionweb
  • World Food Programme

Talek Gate, Masai Mara, Kenya (photo used with permission from Aafeez Jivraj)

Talek Gate, Masai Mara, Kenya (photo used with permission from Aafeez Jivraj)

Damage in Bukoba, Tanzania caused by rising water levels in Lake Victoria (photographer unknown)

Damage in Bukoba, Tanzania caused by rising water levels in Lake Victoria (photographer unknown)

Damage in Bukoba, Tanzania caused by rising water levels in Lake Victoria (photo by Fatema Naushad)

Damage in Bukoba, Tanzania caused by rising water levels in Lake Victoria (photo by Fatema Naushad)

Damage in Bukoba, Tanzania caused by rising water levels in Lake Victoria (photographer unknown)

Wall built to prevent rising water levels from Lake Victoria (photographer unknown)

Trees submerged in Mwanza, Tanzania by rising water levels in Lake Victoria (photo by Zainul Naushad)

Damage in Bukoba, Tanzania caused by rising water levels in Lake Victoria (photographer unknown)

Trees submerged in Mwanza, Tanzania by rising water levels in Lake Victoria (photo by Zainul Naushad)

Trees submerged in Mwanza, Tanzania by rising water levels in Lake Victoria (photo by Zainul Naushad)

Trees submerged in Mwanza, Tanzania by rising water levels in Lake Victoria (photo by Zainul Naushad)

Trees submerged in Mwanza, Tanzania by rising water levels in Lake Victoria (photo by Zainul Naushad)

Rising water levels in Lake Victoria. Photo from Mwanza (photo by Chris Kilala)

Rising water levels in Lake Victoria. Photo from Mwanza (photo by Chris Kilala)

Rising water levels in Lake Victoria. Photo from Mwanza (photo by Chris Kilala)

Rising water levels in Lake Victoria. Photo from Mwanza (photo by Chris Kilala)

Rising water levels in Lake Victoria. Photo from Mwanza (photo by Chris Kilala)

Damaged caused by rising water levels in Lake Victoria. Photo from Mwanza (photo by Chris Kilala)

Rising water levels in Lake Victoria. Photo from Mwanza (photo by Chris Kilala)

Lake Victoria water levels (Source: Global Reservoir and Lakes Monitor)

Video from Mwanza, Tanzania showing damage caused by rising water levels in Lake Victoria

November 2020 floods in Mwanza, Tanzania

November 2020 floods in Mwanza, Tanzania

November 2020 floods in Mwanza, Tanzania

Video by Chris Kilala

Video by Chris Kilala

Flooding in Dar es Salaam (photographers unknown)
November floods in Dar es Salaam (photographer unknown)

November floods in Dar es Salaam (photographer unknown)

Sunday 25 April 2021

Tropical Cyclones in Tanzania: Cyclone Jobo

Are hurricane, typhoon and cyclones different?
Hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones are the same weather system called different names depending on what part of the world they develop. In the Atlantic Ocean and north Pacific Ocean tropical storms are referred to as Hurricanes, in the Indian Ocean and south Pacific Ocean they are Tropical Cyclones and in the northwest Pacific Ocean they are Typhoons.

Hazards associated with tropical cyclones
Heavy rainfall, strong and damaging winds, storm surge, large waves, lightning and even tornadoes are associated with tropical cyclones. Heavy rainfall can lead to cascading hazards such as floods and landslides. Further devastating floods can be caused by a storm surge, which is a rise in the sea level caused by strong winds and atmospheric pressure during a tropical cyclone.

What's with the name?
One of the many questions and comments I come across on social media is related to the name of cyclones, hurricanes or typhoons. So why name tropical storms and where do the names come from? 

Naming tropical cyclones makes them easier to be identified and communicate warnings to the media and communities at risk. Not many of us would remember technical names and numbers if they were used to name tropical cyclones! 

A rotating list of tropical cyclones is maintained by the World Meteorological Organization for each tropical cyclone basin. A storm name is retired if it is deadly and has caused fatalities and widespread destruction. One such name is Hurricane Katrina, a Category 5 hurricane which affected the Bahamas, Cuba, Eastern United States and Eastern Canada resulting in over 1,800 fatalities and widespread destruction in 2005.

The names for the southwest Indian Ocean including the east coast of Africa, contains three lists validated by the Tropical Cyclone Committee (TCC). During each cyclone season, the first tropical storm begins with the letter 'A' from the list. The only exception is when a tropical storm develops over the southeast Indian Ocean and moves to the southwest Indian Ocean.
Southwest Indian Ocean Tropical Cyclone Names (Source: World Meteorological Organization)

To find out more about more about tropical cyclone names including the list for other tropical storm basins, visit the World Meteorological Organization website

Tropical Cyclone Classification
Each cyclone basin uses a different classification. The image below shows these classifications.

Tropical cyclone classifications (Source: World Meteorological Organization)

Tropical Cyclones in Tanzania
Tropical cyclones are rare in Tanzania. By now you have probably heard of the two significant cyclones to affect the country. The Lindi Cyclone resulted in 34 fatalities after it made landfall in Lindi on 15 April 1952 with estimated wind speeds of 117km/h (110mph) (Stephen M. Blumel, The Tanzania hurricane of 14-16 April 1952, National Weather Digest). This cyclone was equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane.

The Zanzibar Cyclone made landfall over Zanzibar on 14 April 1872. Both cyclones caused devastating impacts including damage or destruction of houses, hospitals, the harbour, boats, infrastructure including bridges, roads, electricity, telephone and telegraph services and agriculture crops and plantations  (Hellen E. Msemo, Declan L. Finney and Samwel I. Mbuya, Weather – Month 9999, Vol. 99, No. 99, Forgotten accounts of tropical cyclones making landfall in Tanzania).

In April 2016 heavy rainfall from the remnants of Cyclone Fantala resulted in floods which caused 2 fatalities in Zanzibar and 12 fatalities in the Kilimanjaro and Arusha regions. In addition, 420 people were displaced and 3,330 houses were destroyed in Zanzibar. 13,933 people were displaced and 315 houses were destroyed in the Kilimanjaro and Arusha regions (Kai, K.H., Ngwali, M.K. and Faki, M.M. (2021) Assessment of the Impacts of Tropical Cyclone Fantala to Tanzania Coastal Line: Case Study of Zanzibar. Atmospheric and Climate Sciences, 11, 245-266).

Cyclone Jobo
Tropical Cyclone Jobo formed on 21 April over the southwest Indian Ocean. The maximum sustained wind speed recorded was 111km/h (69mph) on 21 April, making it a Tropical Cyclone (weak Category 1 Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale). Jobo weakened over the next few days to become a Severe Tropical Storm (Tropical Storm on the Saffir-Simpson Scale). 

It was forecast to make landfall over the east coast of Tanzania on 25 April with maximum sustained winds of 65km/h (40mph) and weaken further. The maximum storm surge height forecast for Tanzania was 0.2m. Heavy rainfall, strong winds and storm surges were expected to affect Aldaba (Seychelles), Comoros, Mayotte and Tanzania. In preparation, fisherman in Tanzania were warned to suspend fishing activities and warning advisories were issued by the Tanzania Meteorological Agency.

On 25 April Cyclone Jobo made landfall over at Pwani, Tanzania as a Tropical Disturbance (Tropical Depression on the Saffir-Simpson Scale) with sustained winds of 46km/h (29mph). It weakened further while moving inland and dissipated.

Fortunately, no fatalities or significant damage has been reported.  

Cyclone Jobo Track Map on 22 April (Source: JTWC)

Satellite image of Cyclone Jobo on 22 April (Source: JTWC)

Cyclone Jobo Track Map (Source: JTWC)

Satellite image of Cyclone Jobo on 24 April (Source: JTWC)

Satellite image of Cyclone Jobo on 24 April (Source: JTWC)

Final Warning Track Map of Cyclone Jobo (Source: JTWC)

What you should do to prepare for future tropical cyclones?
Below are a few tips to help you prepare for tropical cyclones in the future:
  • Tune into reliable and official weather warnings and advisories. Make sure you monitor and keep up to date with the latest information. Forecasts and situations can change.
  • Follow advice from official government sources and experts in the field. Remember, at times like these, rumours can be dangerous!
  • Be aware of your risk. Are you at risk from flooding, landslides, storm surge or destruction from high wind speeds? 
  • Create a personal disaster plan (where to go when asked to evacuate, family rendezvous point, essential and useful contacts, actions you will be required to take etc.). 
  • If you have a business, ensure you have a Business Continuity Plan (BCM).
  • Know how to shut off utilities including gas, electricity and water. Remember only turn off utilities if it safe to do so.
  • Create a grab bag containing essential items such as regular medication, spare clothes, toiletries, money and cards, keys, mobile phone chargers, a list of useful contacts, first aid kit, torch and batteries, essential documents (passports, property and insurance) and food for your pets. Don't forget a hard copy of your disaster plan!
  • Be ready to evacuate. If you are asked to evacuate by officials, do not ignore their advice. Be aware of where the community evacuation centres are located.
  • Charge your mobile phones beforehand. 
  • If you have generators, make sure it works and has enough fuel.
  • Stock up on essential items such as food, water and fuel.
  • Check on neighbours, particularly the vulnerable.
  • Secure items which can become lethal debris during a cyclone.
  • Take refuge in an interior room away from windows.
  • If you do not feel safe, seek alternative shelter. 
  • Maintain visual observations of your surroundings to check for hazards such as  flooding.
  • If flooding has occurred and evacuation is not possible, stay in a high place with a means of an escape.
  • Never walk in flood water, just 15cm of fast flowing can knock you off your feet!
  • Flood water can also be contaminated, so try to avoid contact with it. Always wash your hands if you do come into contact with it. 
  • Never drive through flood water. It takes only 30cm of flood water to move a car and 60cm to sweep away most cars.
  • Have you taken your pets and livestock welfare into consideration? Make sure you plan ahead to keep them safe.
  • Do not put yourself and others at risk!

Final remarks
With increasing technology specifically social media, rumours during disasters are unfortunately unavoidable. It is extremely important to always follow advice from reliable sources such as the government and experts in the field.

In April 2019 Cyclone Kenneth made landfall in Mozambique causing widespread destruction. Kenneth was forecast to make landfall in southeast Tanzania prompting numerous people to evacuate their homes. Tanzania had a lucky escape as a result of the cyclone changing direction. It is unfortunate that rumours and misinformation were being spread over social media. I came across posts claiming 'Tanzanians are scared of a little wind which is why they are evacuating', 'the storm is over exaggerated or a hoax'. 

It is extremely dangerous and potentially life threatening to underestimate the power of a cyclone. There are countless examples from around the world of the devastation and fatalities they are capable of causing. Spreading misinformation and mocking a population for making the right decision might cause them to become more reluctant to prepare for hazard in the future. It is important to remember that evacuation may cause inconvenience, but it saves lives!

With the potential impacts of climate change and increasing risk and vulnerability, a cyclone making landfall in Tanzania has a potential to cause fatalities and widespread destruction in coastal cities and towns such as Dar es Salaam. 

Always be prepared for disasters!

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If you have any questions, feel free to send me a message!