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Forecasts suggest below-average October to December in the eastern Horn of Africa

  • Alert
  • East Africa
  • September 26, 2013
Forecasts suggest below-average October to December in the eastern Horn of Africa

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  • Summary
  • Situation

  • Summary
    Regional and national forecasts suggest poor October-December rainfall in the eastern Horn of Africa. If this occurs, elevated food insecurity is likely in agropastoral areas of Somalia’s Hiraan, Bay, and Bakool Regions, southeastern and coastal marginal farming areas of Kenya, and southern and southeastern pastoral areas of Ethiopia. Close monitoring of the season and contingency planning are recommended.


    The seasonal forecast released by the Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (GHACOF) suggests an increased probability of below-average September to December rainfall across much of Somalia, Kenya, northern Tanzania, and eastern Ethiopia (Figure 1). Rains are expected to start late and be erratically distributed over time and space, particularly in October and November. These rains typically account for 40 to 60 percent of annual rainfall in the eastern Horn. They represent the primary cropping season in southeastern Kenya and the secondary production season in pastoral and agropastoral areas of Kenya, Somalia, and southern and southeastern Ethiopia. This regional forecast is consistent with more detailed forecasts from the Kenyan and Tanzanian meteorological departments. In general March to May 2013 rainfall was average to above-average rainfall across the region. This would partially mitigate the impact of poor October to December rains. Nonetheless, if the upcoming season starts late and rainfall totals fall below average, food security will deteriorate, especially in localized areas where crop and pasture production were below-average during the last season.

    In Somalia, the well below average July/August Gu harvest in agropastoral areas of Hiraan has already increased food insecurity. Sorghum production in Hiraan only totaled 980 metric tons (MT), 46 percent below the 1995-2012 average. In these areas, a below-average October to December Deyr season would likely result in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) by the first quarter of 2014 as households exhaust their saleable livestock and access to credit. Food insecurity could also increase in agropastoral areas of Bay and Bakool to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and in the Sool Plateau in Bari Region.

    In Kenya, a late onset and below-average totals during the primary cropping season in the Southeast would reduce maize yields and income from agricultural labor. Food security will likely deteriorate seasonally through December, but in the event of reduced rainfall, it would be more severe than usual. In northern and northeastern pastoral areas, a delayed onset could prolong the lean season by almost a month.

    In Ethiopia, the food security impacts of a late start and below average total October to December Deyr/Hageya rainfall would likely be most severe in localized pastoral and agropastoral areas of Nogob (formerly Fik), Afder, and Borena Zones where the previous March to May Gu/Genna season performed poorly.  Milk production and livestock body conditions would likely decline.

    In affected areas of Tanzania, crop yields and labor income would likely decline, exacerbating conditions in areas which were dry last year during the same season. Food insecurity would be likely between December and March when households typically depend on income from agricultural labor and consume crops from the January Vuli harvest.

    FEWS NET will closely monitor the progress of the October to December season. While a normal season remains possible, the likelihood of a late start and below average total rainfall remains high. Contingency planning to address increased acute food insecurity is recommended.


    Figure 1

    Figure 1. Consensus climate outlook, September to December 2013

    Source: IGAD Climate Predication and Applications Center

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