Natural disasters are increasing in number and frequency, and affect most countries in Africa.
Droughts and floods severely impact on food and water security in Africa. Droughts and floods related to ENSO have had major human and economic costs in east and southern Africa. The ENSO floods in 1998 in east Africa resulted in human suffering and deaths, as well as extensive damage to infrastructure and crops in Kenya (Magadza, 2000). Floods in Mozambique in 2000 and in Kenya in 1997-1998 sparked major emergency relief as hundreds of people lost their lives and thousands were displaced from their homes (Brickett et al., 1999; Ngecu and Mathu, 1999; see also ). The cost in Kenya alone was estimated at US$1 billion (Ngecu and Mathu, 1999).
Because of their combination of several natural resources, such as fisheries and fertile alluvial soils, wetlands and floodplains often are sites of dense rural settlements as well as urban settlements, such as N'Djamena near Lake Chad and coastal areas of central and southern Mozambique. The east African floods of 1998 and the Mozambique floods in early 2000 and 2001 caused considerable damage to property and infrastructure. The major infrastructure damage was road and rail network damage. Communications among human settlements in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania were seriously disrupted, impeding movement of goods and persons in the region (Magadza, 2000).