Thursday, June 12, 2008

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Juba River Flooding

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Late in the fall of 2006, the Horn of Africa received heavy rains generally believed to have been the consequence of an El Niño weather pattern over the Pacific Ocean. By late November and early December, flooding had displaced roughly half a million people, destroyed crops and villages, and caused outbreaks of disease. The severity of the floods made relief efforts extremely difficult. By December these floods were the worst Somalia had seen in ten years. In March 2007, predictions of above-normal spring rains in the upper reaches of the Juba River watershed threatened to cause more flooding.

On the left page, September 2006 and December 2006 images show a portion of the Juba River before and after the rains came, respectively. Flooded areas appear as dark-green to black. Small portions of these images (yellow rectangles) are shown on the right in greater detail.

In spite of profound negative impacts of the flooding in the Juba River region, two consecutive seasons of heavy precipitation may have benefited cereal grain production and improved pastoral conditions in the region, substantially reducing the need for humanitarian assistance.
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