Just before Christmas the local Arusha Times was wondering what might have happened to the 400 or so hippos that inhabited Lake Babati, a small lake about two hours travel south of the north Tanzanian city. It quoted local inhabitants around the lake as saying that the drought, which had caused lower water levels in the lake and the growth of weed and water hyacinth across its surface, might have driven the hippos away. The hippos were an important source of tourist income to the local inhabitants although they were often a menace to the local fishing industry, which thrived on tilapia.

Only a few days later the region, which is in the Rift Valley to the south of Lake Manyara and the west Tarangire national park, was flooded with severe rains which made many homeless and blocked traffic on the main Arusha-Babati-Singida road. Chinese contractors were forced to dig drainage canals to free the surface from the mud, logs and debris coming down from the hills.

Severe rains in Tanzania have now killed three people and made thousands homeless in the Morogoro region to the west of Dar es Salaam and south of Kilimanjaro. Vehicles travelling along the Dar-Moshi highway were held up for several hours at the beginning of January by mud and debris blocking the road.

In Tanzania there are usually two rainy seasons, one in October and another in February-March.