Download the Report
Below-average rainfall performance, abnormally high land surface temperatures, and poor vegetation conditions continued in April over much of the equatorial sector of East Africa. Drought conditions persist despite an increase in rainfall in late April and early May, which was driven in part by the presence of tropical cyclone Kenneth.
Conversely, parts of southwestern, central, and northeastern regions of Ethiopia and much of Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania continued to receive average to well above-average rainfall amounts during this period.
The rainfall forecast calls for sustained moderate to very heavy rainfall along southern Kenya and northern Tanzania’s coastal regions, as well as parts of the western and northern sector of the region. Meanwhile, the eastern Horn is likely to experience a normal cessation of the March–May seasonal rains in the coming weeks.
In April, below-average rainfall persisted across Uganda, South Sudan, eastern and southern Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, and parts of northeastern Tanzania. According to the latest estimated rainfall anomalies map for April, the worst-affected areas include northeastern Uganda, greater Equatoria region of South Sudan, southern Oromia and Somali regions of Ethiopia, southern Somalia, and Kenya, where cumulative rainfall deficits exceeded 75 mm (Figure 1). April is typically the peak month of the March – May rainfall season. Late April and early May brought an increase in rainfall, but this is unlikely to significantly alleviate on-going drought conditions. Although the rains have partially replenished rangeland resources in some localized areas, the rainfall is generally too light and too late in the season to significantly improve agricultural production prospects in marginal agricultural areas in the eastern Horn. The exception is likely to be the Shabelle, Juba, and Bay/Bakool regions, which are expected to benefit from forecast average rainfall in the July-September Xagaa season.
Meanwhile, the rest of Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, parts of southwestern Uganda, and southwestern, central, and northeastern Ethiopia continued to receive average to well above-average rainfall in April, resulting in favorable cropping and rangeland conditions. The recent enhanced rainfall across the region is attributed to the conducive eastward track of tropical cyclone Kenneth, which was present over the coastal regions of southern Tanzania and northern Mozambique.
The latest vegetation anomalies, based on the eMODIS/Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, continue to depict vast areas of exceptionally drier-than-normal vegetation conditions across Kenya, northeastern Tanzania, northeastern Uganda, Somalia, eastern and southern Ethiopia, and southeastern South Sudan (Figure 2). Current rainfall is expected to slightly improve vegetation conditions in the short-term, partially regenerating pasture and replenishing surface water resources. However, in marginal agricultural areas, recently planted maize crops that are in the emergent stages are below-average due to the significantly shortened length of the growing period, including in eastern and southern Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, and parts of southern Belg-cropping areas of Ethiopia.
According to reports from the Food Security and Nutrition Working Group (FSNWG), the eastern Horn remains in moderate to severe drought conditions, with northward expansion of drought into eastern Ethiopia, northern Somalia, and Djibouti, based on current assessments and the rainfall outlook for May and June.
The following is a country-by-country update on recent seasonal progress to date:
- In Somalia, April rainfall was largely well below average. Parts of coastal southern Somalia received less than 25 percent of normal April totals. This is expected to reduce overall agricultural production prospects this season. Further, low Shabelle and Juba river levels are expected to lead to below-average irrigated crop production. However, forecast average Xagaa rainfall from July to September is expected to benefit Shabelle, Juba, and Bay/Bakool cropping regions, which could yet result in favorable sorghum cropping conditions and yields. Rangeland resources remained significantly poor across the country in April.
- In Ethiopia, Belg rainfall performance in April was average to above average across the southwest-northeast sectors, improving cropping conditions. In contrast, the Gu rains were well below-average and land surface temperatures remained hotter-than-normal across the southern half of Somali region and southeast Oromia. The worst-affected areas in southeastern Somali region received less than 25 percent of normal rainfall. Given poor rainfall in March and April, most rangeland resources are significantly depleted in eastern and southern Oromia and Somali regions.
- In Kenya, the long rains remained largely below average in April at less than 80 percent of normal, punctuated by a few rainy days in the final week of the month. The worst-affected areas are within marginal agricultural and pastoral livelihood zones, which have received less than 50 percent of normal rainfall, including southern, southeastern lowlands, eastern, parts of central, and northern pastoral Kenya. Although recent light to moderate rains were widespread, these are unlikely to significantly improve current conditions due to the existence of prolonged moderate to severe drought, which has been exacerbated by exceptionally hotter-than-normal land surface temperatures. Marginal crops are most likely to be below average. Additionally, western and north- and central-Rift Valley areas are increasingly likely to realize a delayed harvest and prolonged lean period. If the rains remain erratic with dry spells, an increased risk of FAW and crop water-stress would reduce yields in main higher potential maize producing areas, compounding the current precarious situation.
- In Sudan, dry and hot conditions continued, as is typical in April, but early rainfall deficits were evident in its southern regions bordering South Sudan. Vegetation conditions remain near average. However, little to no rainfall is forecast in May and dry conditions are expected to persist until the main June-September rainfall season.
- In South Sudan, the April-June rainy season has been characterized by a delayed onset and erratic and below-average amounts in the bimodal regions of Greater Equatoria and parts of Lakes regions. Currently, crops are largely at the emergence stage and in favorable condition. Pasture and water resources were adversely affected by the prolonged dry season and exceptionally hotter-than-normal land surface temperatures at the start of season, especially in eastern and southern Equatoria. Conditions are likely to improve through the establishment of the unimodal June-September rains.
- In Uganda, rainfall continued to be below average in April, with amounts ranging from 50 to 80 percent of normal. The worst-affected districts were Mubende, Lira, Masaka and Jinja, which experienced less than 50 percent of the April average. Only Gulu, Kabale, Entebbe, Kampala, Kituza, and Kotido received average rainfall in April. In Karamoja, planting is below average levels due to climatic conditions coupled with a lack of sufficient seeds. Rangeland resources are currently extremely poor, and livestock remain in distant dry season grazing areas. In bimodal areas, current crop conditions in parts of western, central, eastern and northwestern regions have gradually recovered, given improved rainfall in April and early May. Nonetheless, there is an increased likelihood for a delayed and below-average bimodal harvest, though total production prospects are highly dependent on rainfall performance in May and June.
- In Rwanda and Burundi, season B rainfall performance intensified in April, resulting in above average rainfall amounts in both Rwanda and Burundi despite a delayed and erratic onset in some southern areas of both countries. Cropping and rangeland conditions across the two countries are presently favorable, with maize crops in the vegetative stages.
- In Tanzania, 2018/19 Msimu seasonal rains persistently remained above average to average in April. Rainfall significantly intensified in southern and central regions in late April into early May, due to the presence of tropical cyclone Kenneth. Overall, the agricultural production prospects in unimodal areas remain average to above average. However, northern bimodal regions are likely to experience crop yield reductions, due to a delayed onset and significant rainfall deficits. Pasture and water resources are also likely to remain favorable, apart from central and northern pastoral regions.
- In Yemen, April rainfall performance was slightly below average in most parts of country, except in the western highlands where rainfall was average to above average. Vegetation conditions are drier-than-normal as a result.
The one-week rainfall outlook shows an increased likelihood for continued moderate to locally very heavy seasonal rains across East Africa (Figure 3). Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, parts of Kenya, south-central Somalia, and Ethiopia are forecast to receive rainfall. However, seasonal totals are expected to remain widely below average and drought conditions in worst-affected areas of the Horn are likely to persist. It is also important to note the gradual shift of the seasonal rains into the western and northern sector, which will cause the seasonal rains to gradually subside over eastern and northern Kenya and parts of Tanzania in May. In addition, water stressed crops in most of southern Somalia’s main production areas are likely to experience further stress through the third week of May, as are parts of Uganda and the western, Rift Valley, and central counties of Kenya. Based on preliminary data and the two-week forecast, these areas may see 25 mm to 100+ mm rainfall deficits during the first three weeks of May (Figure 4). In high potential crop-growing areas west of Nairobi, rainfall appears likely to be below 50 percent of average. In contrast, coastal regions are forecast to remain extremely wet in May, as is typical in May and June. Floods remain an imminent threat over southern Kenya and northern Tanzania’s coastal areas for the next 1 -2 weeks.
Source: FEWS NET/USGS
Source: FEWS NET/USGS
Source: FEWS NET/USGS
Source: FEWS NET/USGS
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.