Nairobi — Rainfall that has been twice the seasonal average in parts of eastern Africa has claimed almost 500 lives, forced thousands from their homes and damaged crops, raising the spectre of a repeat of last year’s food shortages. A series of small Kenyan dams collapsed at the weekend, killing five people — the latest victims of the deluges that began around the main wet season in March, and which have also caused deaths in Rwanda, Ethiopia, Somalia and Tanzania. Livestock has been swept away and transport systems disrupted, with a UN agency official warning of damage to food production. "Recent floods have heavily affected the fragile food security situation in the East Africa region," Valere Nzeyimana, land and water officer with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), said in an e-mailed response to questions. "People have seen their farms washed away through flooding and mudslides." The flooding comes about a year after eastern Africa faced the opposite problem: its ...

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