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Flash flood destroys agri research center

As heavy rainfall continues to batter the Oromia and Afar Regional States, flash flood is reported to have destroyed the Worer Research center, an important agricultural research lab,  causing an irreversible damage to expensive  projects and the surrounding area, after the Awash River burst its bank on Thursday, September o3, 2020, The Reporter has learnt.

The continuous heavy rainfall over the many parts of the nation has forced the flood threat levels to be elevated, throughout this week.

The latest devastation comes as the government allocates a massive budget to produce millions of tons of wheat for the upcoming year, with the aim of curbing imports.

Visiting Afar in June, PM Abiy Ahmed (PhD) had urged regional and federal officials to develop and adapt modern farming techniques along the Awash River, particularly for wheat and lowland fruit production.

Situated along the banks of the river, Worer is one of the few research institutions, where agricultural research and breading of improved seeds and cattle, production of lowland fruits and animal forage take place, all year round.

However, the latest disaster has fully damaged most of the farms and washed away research samples. Employees and resident researchers, who live in the compound, and people residing in the neighboring small town, could only manage to rescue dozens of goats, sheep and cows for breading and husbandry.

Prior to the research center, surrounding areas along the river bank have all been affected by flash floods. Mainly, Metehara, MerMe, Adama, and neighboring localities are some of the stricken towns in Oromia Regional State.

In addition, The Reporter has learnt that the flood was exacerbated by Beseka Lake, which has also seen high volume of rain water beyond its capacity. Last week, UNHCR Ethiopia confirmed that the ongoing rains, coupled with the backflow of the Tendaho Dam and the overflow of Awash, has affected at least 13 woredas in the Afar region, displacing over 40,000 people, over the last couple of months.

The UN, as part of its flood response taskforce, is distributing essential aid items such as sleeping mats, plastic tents, mosquito nets, soap and kitchen utensils.

It is to be remembered that earlier last month, the Awash River had displaced thousands of people in the region. In some places, people were stranded for a day, in the middle of the flood, until an Air force helicopter rescued them.

Before the rescue, the Afar State Disaster Prevention and Food Security Program Coordination Office, announced that around 70,000 people were struggling due to floods, this month, caused by overflow of the Awash River.

The flood has affected many people in several woredas including Assaita and Afambo areas and displaced people in Afambo and Assaita are still receiving emergency aid, it was learnt.

Flash flooding warnings are in effect across many parts of the country in addition to Afar and Oromia.

The Awash River is a major river in Ethiopia. Its course is entirely contained within the boundaries of Ethiopia, and empties into a chain of interconnected lakes and flows towards the Rift Valley. It covers 110,000 square kilometers in Ethiopia's Oromia, Afar and Amhara regions.