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EAST AFRICA: Deforestation exacerbates droughts, floods

Earth News: Africa

NAIROBI, 10 Nov 2006 (IRIN) - Frequent droughts and floods in eastern Africa can partly be blamed on widespread deforestation in the region, experts have said."Trees actually do two processes. They drill water into the ground. They funnel water into underground aquifers where it is stored to supply rivers during drought," Nick Nuttal, spokesman for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said."They also hold soil. Where there are no trees, the soil is washed away into rivers causing siltation into the oceans choking coral reefs," he told IRIN on the sidelines of the 6-17 November conference of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Nairobi. "The link between deforestation anddrought is very significant".The loss of ground cover due to deforestation resulted in flash floods during heavy rainfall, leading to soil erosion. "That is the start of desertification," said Beneah Odhiambo, a professor of geography at Moi University in western Kenya. Photo: Kenyan herders look at the skeleton of a cow killed by drought

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