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Since early February, rainfall has been slightly above average in parts of western and southwestern Ethiopia, much of Uganda, Tanzania, and Burundi, with areas of below-average rainfall in northeastern and southern Ethiopia, western Kenya, and Rwanda. During this time, much of Somalia remained seasonally dry.
Vegetation conditions remain below average across wide areas of the region, following poor seasonal progress in late 2016. Improvements in rainfall, with rainfall occurring even during some seasonally dry periods, have contributed to slight, localized improvements in parts of southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya, pasture and water availability remains well below average in most areas of the Eastern Horn.
Heavy seasonal rainfall is likely during the coming weeks in most parts of Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi, while little to no rainfall is forecast in most parts of Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda. Particularly in eastern pastoral and Belg-producing areas in Ethiopia, close monitoring is needed in the coming weeks as seasonal rainfall typically increases during this time.
Following poor performance of October to December rainfall in many areas of the region, the seasonal March to June rainfall is just starting to get underway. Rainfall performance during the past 30 days has been mixed, with some areas in western Ethiopia, Uganda, and Tanzania receiving above average rainfall, while parts of Kenya and Burundi remained drier than normal (Figure 1). Vegetation conditions, as indicated by the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), remain below average across large swaths of the region, particularly in southern/central Somalia, southern Ethiopia, most of Kenya, northern Tanzania, northern Uganda, and Rwanda. In general, rangeland conditions remain well below average in the Eastern Horn, with cropping prospects remaining below average in Tanzania.
The following is a country-by-country update on recent seasonal progress to date:
- In Ethiopia, areas of SNNPR western Oromia, Amhara, and Afar have received slightly above-average rainfall since mid-February. This rainfall has occurred prior to or toward the beginning of Belg seasonal rainfall, although a late start to the Belg season is reported in some localized areas. In areas where February is typically dry, such as in pastoral areas of SNNPR, unseasonable rainfall has occurred during the past 30 days, although in areas worst-affected by drought during the October to December Deyr/Hageya season, Gu/Genna rainfall typically begins in March and rainfall to date has been minimal. Pasture and water remain very limited in most southern and southeastern areas.
- In Somalia, little rainfall has fallen during the past 30 days, which is climatologically normal with the Gu rains typically getting underway toward late March/early April. In isolated areas of southern Somalia, small amounts (10-15 mm) of rainfall was recorded during the month of February. Vegetation conditions remain worse than normal following the very poor Deyr 2016 rains, with availability of water and pasture remaining very poor.
- In Kenya, light showers in February have helped to ease some moisture stress on pasture and slightly recharge water sources in various parts of the country, including western, central, and northeastern areas, although the amounts were not enough to fully recharge these resources or fully alleviate longer terms rainfall deficits accumulated since last year. In the unimodal, high-producing areas, this rainfall marks the typical beginning of the rainy season that extends through August. Given that the soils were already atypically dry, additional rainfall is needed to fully support a normal cropping season.
- In Tanzania, continued Msimu rains in unimodal areas have eased moisture stress on already planted crops, especially in higher-producing areas, improving crop production prospects. However, the delayed start, especially in unimodal-bimodal transition areas, is still leading to below normal production prospects. The Masika (March to May) season in bimodal areas has had a timely onset, which is beneficial, especially following the delayed and below-average Vuli season.
- In Uganda, most areas of Uganda received 100 to 200 mm of unseasonal rainfall in February, which has helped ease moisture deficits, including on pasture and water resources in the cattle corridor of the southwest running through northeastern areas. In most agriculturally productive areas, this rainfall has been sufficient for land preparation.
- In Rwanda, Season B rains have gotten underway in most areas of the country, although rainfall was below average of the past 30 days.
- In Burundi, vegetation conditions still below average due to below-average rainfall during the previous season. However, seasonal rainfall since the beginning of the main rainy season in early February has been above average.
- In Djibouti, Xays/Dadaa rainfall season was slightly below average into February, although the previous season was favorable.
- In eastern DRC, rainfall performance was mixed, with above-average rainfall in southeastern areas and below-average rainfall in northeastern areas. This continued rainfall is likely to continue supporting cropping conditions in many areas, although there are concerns that pests, plant disease, conflict, and seed availability issues could lead to poor cropping prospects in localized areas.
- In Yemen, rain showers in western coastal areas have been favorable for cropping activities. However, continued conflict and high diesel prices remain a concern for cropping activities.
The 1-week NOAA/GFS rainfall forecast (Figure 3) through March 13, 2017, indicates that Tanzania, Eastern DRC, Rwanda, and Burundi are likely to continue receiving heavy rainfall, which could improve cropping prospects in some areas where seasonal rainfall has been below average. In northern areas, including Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya, the forecast indicates a continuation of mostly dry weather during the next couple of weeks, which is climatologically normal in many areas, except in Belg-receiving areas and some pastoral areas of Ethiopia, where seasonal rainfall should begin to increase in the coming weeks. Close monitoring of the season will be important in the coming weeks, particularly in pastoral areas where rainfall was well below average during the 2016 Deyr/Hageya season.
Figure 1. ARC2 estimated rainfall anomaly, percent of normal (1983-2009), February 7- March 8, 2017
Figure 2. eMODIS/NDVI anomaly (2001-2010), February 21 – February 28, 2017
Source: USGS/FEWS NET
Figure 3. 1-Week GFS-Rainfall forecast (mm), valid until March 16, 2017
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.