Flash flooding from heavy rains killed dozens and affected 300,000 people in Ethiopia and Somalia in March 2023. The damaging flooding came after the region has experienced almost three years of extreme drought.

In the first 25 days of March, parts of Ethiopia received 5 to 10 centimeters (2 to 4 inches) more rain than is usual for the period, according to a report from Crop Monitor.

“Normally, the long rains begin in Kenya and move north to Ethiopia and Somalia,” said Caroline Wainwright, a climate scientist at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom. “But this year, the rains started concurrently, and the last two weeks of March were incredibly wet in all three countries.”

Moderate to heavy rains in the Ethiopian highlands overtopped banks of the Shabelle and Juba rivers. Homes, schools, and health facilities were destroyed along the banks of the two rivers, in southern Somalia and eastern Ethiopia, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA).