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Rainfall remains heavy in northern areas, but dryness intensifies in Ethiopia, Uganda

  • Seasonal Monitor
  • East Africa
  • September 9, 2016
Rainfall remains heavy in northern areas, but dryness intensifies in Ethiopia, Uganda

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  • Key Messages
  • Seasonal Progress
  • Forecast
  • Partner
    Key Messages
    • Rainfall has remained persistently above average in Sudan, western  and northern Ethiopia and western South Sudan since mid-August, leading to a continuation of good cropping and livestock conditions, but also flooding in localized areas. 

    • In central and southern Ethiopia, southeastern South Sudan, and much of Uganda, rainfall has been below average since mid-August. Seasonal rainfall deficits, particularly in SNNPR and central and eastern Oromia in Ethiopia, are leading to prospects for belowpaverage crop production in some areas.

    • Seasonal rainfall is expected to begin decreasing in northern areas of East Africa in the coming weeks, as seasonal rainfall shifts southward. This shift could provide relief in areas already affected by flooding, and reduce the risk of additional flooding. 

    Seasonal Progress

    Since mid-August, rainfall has remained average or above average over most northern areas of East Africa, including in Sudan, much of South Sudan, western and northern Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea, and in Yemen (Figure 1). This rainfall has led to a continuation of flooding that has displaced households, damaged houses and crops, and resulted in fatalities. Countries worst affected by flooding include Sudan and South Sudan, although some flooding has also been reported in Ethiopia.

    By contrast, rainfall has been below average in southeastern South Sudan, central and southern Ethiopia, and throughout much of Uganda, with deficits reaching up to 100 mm over the past 30 days. Abnormal dryness has led to moisture stress on crops and reduced yields, particularly in central/eastern Oromia and SNNPR in Ethiopia and Karamoja in Uganda.

    Remote-sensing vegetation products, such as eMODIS/NDVI, indicate greener-than-average conditions over much of Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and parts of the Rift Valley in Kenya, suggesting moisture conditions remain favorable for cropping in those areas (Figure 2). In fact, the agricultural production prospects, based on crop model outputs, depict average to better-than-average yield prospects for much of Sudan, Eritrea, and Ethiopia, except in parts of Oromia and SNNPR, where yields are expected to reduced due to the poor seasonal rainfall performance. Meanwhile, vegetation conditions continued to rapidly deteriorate along East Africa coastal strip, due to poor performance of the Gu/long rains seasaon earlier in the year, coupled with well above-normal land surface temperatures, negatively impacting rangeland resources (water and pasture) and cropping conditions.

    The following is a country-by-country update on recent seasonal progress to date:

    • In Ethiopia, Kiremt (June - September) seasonal rainfall has declined slightly since mid-August, although rainfall totals in most northern and western areas remained average to above average, where cropping prospects remain favorable. However, in central and eastern areas of Oromia, rainfall has been significantly below average since mid-August. In these areas and parts of SNNPR, a combination of remote-sensing products and field observations suggest cropping prospects are poor.
    • In northeastern Ethiopia and Djibouti, Karan/Karma (July to September) rainfall since mid-August has remained  significantly above-average, as has second season rainfall in Yemen. As a result, pasture and livestock conditions are expected to continue to show improvements. Above-average rainfall should be favorable for crop growth and livestock productivity in Yemen, although civil insecurity could limit crop and livestock production.
    • In Sudan, main season (June to September) rainfall since mid-August has remained above average, including over key agricultural production areas in eastern and central Sudan. As a result, production prospects remain favorable across most of the country. However, due to above-average rainfall, flooding has damaged crops, especially in riverine and irrigated areas, and has temporarily displaced a significant number of households. Flooding has been most significant in Kassala, Sennar, Kordofan, Al Gezira, Gedaref, White Nile, and the Darfur States.
    • In South Sudan, rainfall since mid-August has been above average in northern areas, where the main rainy season is ongoing. Heavy rainfall has caused seasonal floods that damaged crops in Jonglei and Unity States and displaced an estimated 23,000 people in Twic East and 22,000 people in Mayom. The second rainy season in Greater Equatoria began in August and totals so far have been above average in western and central regions and slightly below average in eastern regions. Despite favorable rainfall in most areas, ongoing internal conflict is limiting area planted and cropping potential.
    • In Kenya, the long rains (February to August) season for the western and Rift Valley generally concluded in mid-August, so most of the country has received little rainfall recently. Overall crop prospects were normal to slightly below normal due to below-average rainfall. Southwestern areas of the country also received below-average rainfall toward the end of the season, which could affect the maize harvest beginning in October. In the pastoral communities of Isiolo, Garissa, and Tana River, there are reports of conflict among pastoralists due to limited and rapidly declining rangeland resources.
    • In Uganda, the main (April to September) rainy season in Karamoja is ongoing. Rainfall has been slightly below average in most areas since mid-August, although total cumulative rainfall throughout the season has been average to above average. Despite good cumulative rainfall during the season, prolonged dry spells and poor spatial distribution of rainfall has led to significant moisture stress on crops in Karaomja. As a result, cropping prospects are below normal. However, rainfall has been sufficient to support average rangeland conditions over this time period.


    The short-term NOAA/GFS rainfall forecast (Figure 3) through September 15, 2016 depicts a gradual southward shift of the rain-systems, likely to result in reduced seasonal rainfall amounts in western and central Sudan and eastern South Sudan. Heavy to very heavy rainfall (more than 100 mm) is forecast over the western and central highlands of Ethiopia. Heavy rainfall is also expected over parts of western and central Eritrea, Yemen, and western Kenya and Uganda. The forecast moderate to heavy rains (20 – 80 mm) in the coming weeks are likely to help ease the current drier-than-normal conditions in eastern Rwanda and northern Burundi.

    Meanwhile, the Eastern Horn and much of Tanzania, Kenya and Somalia are expected to be sunny and dry, as is typical for this time of year, with the highlands remaining relatively cool with light rains. Light to moderate rains are also forecast along the coastal strip of Kenya and northeastern Tanzania during the coming week. 

    Figures Figure 1. ARC2 30-day rainfall estimate anomaly, percent of normal (1983-2009),  1 – 31 August, 2016

    Figure 1

    Figure 1. ARC2 30-day rainfall estimate anomaly, percent of normal (1983-2009), 1 – 31 August, 2016

    Source: NOAA/NWS/CPC

    Figure 2. eMODIS/NDVI anomaly (2001-2010), August 21 - 31, 2016

    Figure 2

    Figure 2. eMODIS/NDVI anomaly (2001-2010), August 21 - 31, 2016

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Figure 3. 1-Week GFS-Rainfall forecast (mm),  Valid until September 15, 2016

    Figure 3

    Figure 3. 1-Week GFS-Rainfall forecast (mm), Valid until September 15, 2016

    Source: NOAA/CPC

    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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