Igad region (Image File)

Drier & Warmer Season Forecasted to Continue Across Eastern Africa

ADDIS ABABA – Seven East African countries will experience “worrying drier than usual conditions” during the upcoming October-December rainy season, projects Igad’s Climate Prediction and Applications Center (ICPAC).

Last week, the Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum was convened online by ICPAC, a draught monitoring institute of Igad, in collaboration with the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services to issue the October – December 2021 seasonal forecast.

“A drier than usual season is forecasted across Eastern Africa from October to December 2021,” ICPAC says in the forecast issued after the meeting, describing it as “worrying”.

The season is known to be harvest season in much of Ethiopia except South Eastern part of the country which experiences a short rainfall period.

It is also a key farming season for Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda – representing up to 70% of the total annual rainfall.

This year, ICPAC forecast the season, particularly in Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Somalia, south-eastern Ethiopia, and the Red Sea coast of northern Eritrea, will be drier than usual.

“Of particular concern are the drier than usual conditions forecasted over the cross-border areas of Kenya and Somalia,” says ICPAC.

2021 is being, and expected to continue to be, a drier than usual year for the majority of the region.

“Observations of rainfall over the past months reveal that the region has been facing rainfall deficits in many parts of central and southern East Africa and this is forecasted to continue until December 2021,” the report says.

‘Two weeks delay Possible’

Past observed deficits, coupled with the latest forecast indicate moderate to severe drought conditions in the region, according to the report.

It also says the start of the season could to be delayed by up to 2 weeks, especially over eastern Kenya and southern Somalia.

South Sudan, north-western Uganda, and south-western Ethiopia could receive over 200 and 300 mm during the entire season, ICPAC projects.

‘There is a lower than usual chance of exceeding 200 and 300 mm over most other regions, in particular over eastern Kenya and southern Tanzania,” the center says.

Besides the dry conditions, ICPAC forecasts warmer than usual temperatures are expected across the region, which may affect the humanitarian situation negatively.

“The food security and nutrition situation is likely to worsen especially in the Arid and Semi-Arid regions, requiring the need for expanding humanitarian assistance and interventions across the region,” Igad’s  drought monitoring center says.

Generally, poor rains, late-onset, coupled with other non-climatic drivers like COVID-19, economic shocks, and conflict present poor prospects for farming across the region.

Accordingly, more than 30 million people in the region will likely be highly food insecure and in need of urgent assistance through 2021, the center says.

Considering the ongoing simultaneous humanitarian emergencies impacting the region, including the COVID-19 pandemic, ICPAC advises regional and national to use the latest seasonal forecast to develop contingency plans.

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