Uncertain rainy season for Horn of Africa

 
By Denis McClean

GENEVA, 29 February 2012 - The March to May rainfall season in the Greater Horn of Africa is likely to result in "near normal to below normal rainfall" over much of the region, according to a statement today from the 30th Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (GHACOF30).

This rainfall outlook applies in particular to areas plagued by drought in recent years including much of Somalia; Djibouti; eastern and northern Kenya; southern, eastern and north-eastern Ethiopia.

UNISDR's Deputy Regional Coordinator, Youcef Ait-Chellouche, said: "This is not good news for farmers in areas which have been affected by agricultural drought in recent years. We must plan for the probability that rainfall will be erratic and there will be long dry spells which will impact on crop production and food security.

"People's resilience and coping capacity has been eroded by the last two difficult years especially in Somalia so it's clear that we must act now. The general consensus from this meeting is that the Horn of Africa is still very much at risk."

Mr. Ait-Chellouche said that disaster managers and sector specialists were in agreement that disaster risk reduction must be embedded now in long-term development plans for the region while preparedness measures are put in place for the humanitarian consequences of a poor rainy season in many parts of the Horn.

The Greater Horn of Africa region comprises Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

GHACOF30 also found there is "increased likelihood of near normal to above normal rainfall" over south-western Tanzania, south-western Ethiopia, South Sudan and south-western Sudan. The near normal to below normal forecast also applies to much of Tanzania, western and southern Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda.

The GHACOF30 statement reads: "The outlook is relevant only for seasonal time scales and relatively large areas. Local and month-to-month variations might occur. For example, episodic heavy rainfall events leading to flash floods might occur in areas with increased likelihood of near normal to below normal rainfall.

"Additionally long dry spells may occur in areas with increased likelihood of near normal to above normal rainfall. Some of these dry and wet spells are linked to indirect impacts of the unseasonal tropical cyclones in western Indian Ocean areas during February to April months."

Disaster managers and other end users of the information are advised that the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (IPAC) and national meteorological and hydrological services will provide regular forecast updates.

GHACOF30 reviewed the impact of global climate systems including the influence of sea surface temperature anomalies over the adjacent tropical Indian and Atlantic Oceans, the La Niña conditions over the Pacific Ocean and evolving atmospheric circulation.

Guidance and valuable prediction information was drawn from various sources including the World Meteorological Organisation's Global Producing Centres, operational research and expert opinion. These inputs were combined using deterministic and probabilistic modelling alongside expert analysis to obtain the regional rainfall forecast for the period March to May 2012.
The United Nations General Assembly requested UNISDR to facilitate the development of a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction The United Nations General Assembly requested UNISDR to facilitate the development of a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction.
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