Weather: Weather Wise

The recent history of Africa has been one of alternative droughts and floods - as this week's news confirms. Now something is being done about it.

On Monday, a report from Mozambique indicated 10,000 cases of cholera and 283 deaths from an outbreak of the disease that has been blamed on heavy rains damaging the country's water-supply system.

Yesterday, the World Food Programme announced that it would have to halt a huge emergency relief operation to flood victims in Kenya and Somalia unless it receives immediate financial aid from donors. "It will cost $12m to deliver by air an additional 16,000 tonnes of assistance between now and the end of March," they say.

Some good news for Africa, however, comes from the World meteorological Organization which has just signed an agreement with Belgium to enable the Drought Monitoring Centre in Zimbabwe provide "better and more reliable services necessary for detecting and monitoring drought and other hazardous weather events" in 12 African countries.

The Belgian Administration for Development Corporation will contribute $2.25m to implement the four-year project. the Drought Monitoring Centre in Harare was established in 1991 and has shown its value this year in providing early warning of El Nino-related weather events in the area.