2022 deyr/short rains season was the fifth consecutive below-average rainfall season over East Africa
IPC v3.1 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
IPC v3.1 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
IPC v3.1 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
As forecast by the Climate Hazards Centre (CHC) in August 2022, rainfall accumulation between September and December 2022 was broadly below average over much of the eastern Horn (Figure 1). The areas with the deepest rainfall deficits were primarily located in southern and southeastern Ethiopia, southern and northwestern Somalia, and northern and southeastern Kenya, where the rains were less than 75 percent of normal. According to the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) (Figure 2), the rainfall deficits are consistent with meteorological drought conditions across the eastern Horn, where the SPI reading suggests moderate to severe drought conditions during the period of analysis (SPI<-0.7). Furthermore, this is the fifth consecutive season in which drought conditions have been observed in much of the region.
As previously forecast, western Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi received generally average to above-average cumulative rainfall (Figure 1). According to the SPI, this is reflected in normal to wetter-than-normal conditions across most areas. Despite the normal to above-normal cumulative rainfall totals, however, rainfall was characterized by delayed onset and uneven distribution throughout the season.
In addition to below-average rainfall, the eastern Horn experienced hotter-than-normal conditions from September to December. These temperatures tended to lead to faster-than-normal evaporation of moisture resulting from the rains, contributing to the depletion of vegetation across both pastoral and marginal cropping zones. Meanwhile, the northern sector was typically sunny and hot, even though the abnormally slow progression of the tropical rainfall system (ITCZ) from September into October contributed to an atypical extension of the June to September rainfall season over western Ethiopia, neighboring Sudan, and South Sudan.
These rainfall and temperature trends had a direct impact on vegetation conditions in both pastoral and cropping areas. As of January 10, 2023, exceptionally drier-than-normal vegetation anomalies were observed across most of northern, eastern, and southern Kenya, southern and eastern Ethiopia, and most of Somalia (Figure 3). Atypical dry conditions are also observed in parts of northeastern and central Tanzania. Only a few localized areas in eastern Kenya and southern Somalia show significant improvement in vegetation conditions, attributed to episodic favorable rainfall in late November into December, which helped to stimulate vegetation growth in the short-term. Conversely, the western sector showed much greener-than-normal vegetation conditions in January, attributed to the above-average main rainfall season that extended well into October.
In general, crop production prospects for the January/February harvest in the eastern Horn are moderately to significantly below average due to the impact of below-average rainfall, which resulted in prolonged crop-water-stress during the crop growing period between October and December. Available crop simulation models (such as FEWS NET’s Water Requirement Satisfaction Index) and preliminary field-based assessments indicate well below-average cropping conditions, with localized occurrences of total crop failure in areas that have already experienced multi-year severe agricultural and hydrological drought. At the same time, however, there are localized areas in southern Somalia where crop production performed better than expected; this is expected to result in less severe cereal production deficits compared to the past two-to-three harvests.
Apart from the persistence of flood waters in South Sudan, there is no flood risk over much of East Africa, as the bulk of the seasonal rains have progressed southwards into Tanzania and southern Africa countries. In addition to South Sudan, other localized exceptions include southern Uganda and southwestern Kenya, around the Lake Victoria region, where flood risks are elevated. However, there is increasing concern for flood risk in much of Tanzania, particularly its western, southern, and northeastern regions. Abnormally heavy rains are forecast in the coming weeks in areas of heightened flood risks, which calls for increased close monitoring and updates.
The following is a country-by-country update on recent seasonal progress to date:
- In Somalia, the 2022 deyr rains were the fifth consecutive season of below-average rainfall. The largest deficits were concentrated in parts of Gedo, Middle Shabelle, Togdheer, and Bay regions, including Burhakaba and parts of Diinsoor districts. However, deficits were less severe than anticipated in some areas such as Baidoa district, where cumulative rainfall was only 20 percent below the long-term average. While far from enough to drive full recovery, the rains were reasonably sufficient to support some crop growth and temporarily alleviate water and pasture scarcity in many areas. As a result, the 2022 deyr harvest in January is assessed to be relatively better than previously forecast, with a cereal production deficit of around 30-40 percent compared to the 50-60 percent deficit of the past three seasons. While the rains supported some improvement in livestock body conditions and small ruminant reproduction, these gains will not fully materialize until the next season of livestock births during the April-June gu rains.
- In Ethiopia, the 2022 October to December deyr/hageya season was the fifth consecutive below-average rainy season in southern Oromia and Somali regions. In the worst-affected areas, rainfall deficits were 40 percent or greater compared to average, based on remote sensing data. Additionally, the rains started late, were erratic throughout the season, and ended early. In the rest of southern and southeastern areas, while deficits were not as significant, rainfall was not sufficient to alleviate drought conditions due to dry soils and low total rainfall in 2022. In western Ethiopia, despite the favorable 2022 June to September kiremt season and good cropping conditions in western surplus-producing areas, the national meher production is likely lower than normal due to poor rainfall, flooding, conflict, and the high cost of farm inputs in the neighboring northern regions.
- In Kenya, the 2022 short rains were well below average over most of the northern, eastern, and coastal pastoral and agropastoral zones, marking the fifth consecutive below-average rainy season. Crop production in the marginal agricultural areas is expected to be below-average. Additionally, The National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) is reporting that livestock body conditions in pastoral areas remains largely poor to very poor due to poor rangeland conditions. Rangeland resources are likely to continue deteriorating during the January to March dry season. However, localized areas of southeastern highlands, much of the northern rift valley, and western Kenya recorded cumulatively near-average to above average rainfall. The Ministry of Agriculture anticipates that the national harvest will be 10 to 15 percent lower than the five-year average due to poor rainfall distribution and high production costs.
- In Sudan, harvesting for the main cropping season is on-going with near-average cereal production prospects compared to the five-year average according to CFSAM and FEWS NET/WRSI models. Wheat winter planting is completed with the harvest expected in March/April. Overall, vegetation conditions have remained generally favorable and are much greener-than-normal, due to extended seasonal rainfall into October.
- In South Sudan, the 2022 main production season was well below average due to widespread flooding in 2022, combined with the impacts of conflict and macroeconomic conditions on farmers’ physical and financial capacity to plant. In bimodal cropping areas, the unseasonable October and November rainfall results in above-average rainfall in parts of the south. While flood extent will likely persist, no additional flooding is expected in the coming months during the dry season. Still, there is a fair chance of occasional light to moderate rains over the eastern Equatoria regions and parts of Jonglei and Pibor. Overall, the country will be typically dry and slightly hotter-than-normal through March.
- In Uganda, while cumulative rainfall totals for the September to December 2022 season were average to above-average across most of the country, this was largely driven by late-season rainfall. There is a heightened flood risk over the southern Lake Victoria basin and its environs. Production of perennial crops is expected to be near average in bimodal cropping areas, based on field assessments and remote monitoring data. Of concern, however, are the north and northeast, which have had consecutive seasons of below-average rainfall and harvests. Karamoja, in particular, shows drier-than-normal vegetation conditions that will likely worsen during the on-going dry season until March/April.
- In Rwanda and Burundi, near-average 2022 season A rainfall is expected to result in a nationally near-average harvest in Rwanda. However, parts of Eastern and Western Provinces are expected to realize below-average harvests due to localized, erratic rainfall distribution. In Burundi, the Season A harvest is expected to be 10 to 15 percent below average nationally and 25 to 30 percent below average in some semi-arid livelihood zones in the north and east, where rainfall was particularly poor.
- In Yemen, vegetation conditions are generally better than average over much of the western highlands and other inland areas, supported by prevailing cooler-than-normal conditions. According to available country reports, Yemen’s highlands cereal production in November/December was likely less than last year, due to erratic seasonal rains. Lowlands crop harvest is expected next month, which is also likely to be below average in response to its seasonal rainfall performance.
The NOAA GEFS and IRI/Sub-X weekly forecasts, valid until 27 January, are indicative of an increased likelihood of unseasonal rainfall over western Ethiopia, parts of eastern South Sudan, western Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi. Tanzania is also likely to receive typical seasonal rainfall, but with well above-average rains over its western and eastern coastal regions. The northeastern coastal regions of Somalia are forecast to receive above average rains and strong winds during this period. The rest of the region is expected to remain dry, with hotter-than-normal conditions except in the highlands, which will be near-average to cooler-than-normal.
The upcoming March to June rainy season in East Africa will most likely range from below normal to normal and is unlikely to be above normal. If below-average rains do materialize, the Horn of Africa would experience an unprecedented sequence of six below-average rainy seasons. However, the forecast seasonal rains are likely to be less severe in comparison to the 2022 March to June season.
About this Report
FEWS NET’s Seasonal Monitor reports are produced for Central America and the Caribbean, West Africa, East Africa, Central Asia, and Somalia every 10-to-30 days during the region’s respective rainy season(s). Seasonal Monitors report updates on weather events (e.g., rainfall patterns) and associated impacts on ground conditions (e.g., cropping conditions, pasture and water availability), as well as the short-term rainfall forecast. Find more remote sensing information here.
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