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Promising start to April-June gu seasonal rains, although limited precipitation in central and northeastern areas

  • Seasonal Monitor
  • Somalia
  • April 26, 2023
Promising start to April-June gu seasonal rains, although limited precipitation in central and northeastern areas

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FEWS NET publishes a Seasonal Monitor for Somalia every ten days (dekad) through the end of the current April to June gu rainy season. The purpose of this document is to provide updated information on the progress of the gu season to facilitate contingency and response planning. This Somalia Seasonal Monitor is valid through April 30, 2023, and is produced in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the Climate Hazards Center, the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) Somalia, the Somali Water and Land Information System (SWALIM), several other agencies, and several Somali non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

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Both field information and remote sensing data suggest that the onset and early performance of the April-June gu seasonal rains varied across Somalia. Between mid-March and mid-April, an early to timely onset of the gu characterized by moderate to heavy rainfall was reported in many southern areas (including in Bay, Bakool, Lower Juba, and Middle Juba regions) and northwestern areas (Awdal, Woqooyi Galbeed, and parts of Togdheer, Sool, and Sanaag regions). In other parts of the country including the Lower and Middle Shabelle regions, the Hiraan region, and central and northeastern parts of the country, rains were either on time or poorly established, with localized light to moderate rainfall received. According to CHIRPS remote sensing data for March 21-April 20, most southern areas received 100-200 millimeters (mm) of cumulative rainfall (Figure 1), around 10-100 mm above the long-term (39-year) average for that time period (Figure 2). Though slightly less rainfall – around 25-150 mm – was received in northwestern areas, this was similarly higher than the long-term average, by up to 100 mm in localized areas. Meanwhile, most central areas received 25-100 mm of rainfall, ranging from slightly below average to slightly above average. Northeastern areas were the driest, receiving only 10-25 mm of cumulative rainfall, though this was near the long-term average. Since the onset of the gu seasonal rains in mid-March, localized flooding has been reported in parts of Gedo and Juba regions, resulting in loss of life, population displacement, and moderate to severe damage to standing crops, roads, markets, and houses, as well as some livestock losses. According to FAO SWALIM river station gauge data on April 27, most monitored gauges in the Shabelle and Juba Rivers showed water levels above the long-term mean and near “moderate flood risk.”

In the northwest, the April-June gu rainfall season started early or on time in most pastoral areas of Awdal, Woqooyi Galbeed, Togdheer, Sool, and Sanaag regions. Between late March and mid-April, most of these areas received localized light to moderate rainfall, which positively impacted rangelands and access to water. However, limited rainfall was reported in most Togdheer Agropastoral and Guban Pastoral livelihood zones, Hawd Pastoral areas of Hargeisa (Woqooyi Galbeed region), and parts of the Northern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone in the Sool and Sanaag regions. In these areas, rangeland conditions and water availability remain below average. Flash floods caused by runoff from the neighboring mountainous West Golis livelihood zone, however, benefited the rangelands in the Guban Pastoral livelihood zone, which typically does not receive gu rainfall.

In the northeast, some localized areas received atypical light to moderate todob rains (typically received 2-3 weeks prior to the gu rains) between mid-March and late March. More recently, however, gu seasonal rainfall totals through mid-April have been lower than in the rest of the country. The rainfall received has reportedly been insufficient in most of Bari, Nugaal, and Northern Mudug regions, which desperately need rainfall to replenish water sources and improve rangeland conditions. Limited April rainfall has exacerbated the already dire situation, with water and rangeland conditions remaining significantly below average.

Figure 1

Estimated cumulative rainfall (mm) according to CHIRPS, March 21-April 20, 2023; preliminary data for April 1-20
rainfall was received across the country, with the highest amounts in northwestern and southern areas

Source: UCSB Climate Hazards Center

Figure 2

Estimated cumulative rainfall anomalies (mm) according to CHIRPS, March 21-April 20, 2023 compared to 1981-2020 mean; preliminary data for April 1-20
rainfall was received above average in northwestern and southern areas

Source: UCSB Climate Hazards Center

In central regions, although localized light to moderate rainfall has fallen since late March, cumulative gu rainfall through mid-April in the Galgaduud and southern Mudug regions was largely below typical levels and poorly distributed according to field information. In the east, agropastoral Cowpea Belt areas received relatively higher amounts of rainfall during the April 11-20 period, improving rangelands and water resources. However, most of the Hawd Pastoral, Addun Pastoral, and Coastal Deeh Pastoral areas received less rainfall and are experiencing sustained below-average rangeland conditions. Due to the poor rainfall, some areas including Hawd Pastoral areas of Caabudwaaq and Adaado districts (Galgaduud region) continue to depend on water trucking. 

In the south, there has been a mixed onset of the gu seasonal rains. Some areas – including Bay, Bakool, and Lower Juba regions – received rainfall earlier than usual, with the start from mid-March to the end of March. In contrast, the rest of the south experienced a timely gu onset in mid-April. Overall, the distribution of rainfall over time and space has been poor in many areas, particularly in Hiraan, Middle Shabelle, and large parts of Lower Shabelle and Gedo regions. In total, between March 20 and April 20, rain gauges at various stations recorded the following amounts of cumulative rainfall: 294.5 mm in Xudur (Bakool), 262.5 mm in Baidoa (Bay), 111 mm in Sakow (Middle Juba), 86.5 mm in Beledweyne (Hiraan), 25 mm in Afgoye (Lower Shabelle), and 0 mm in Jamame (Lower Juba). In March and April, flooding has affected many parts of the region, with varying impacts. Bardera experienced destructive floods in March, resulting in loss of lives and property, while deshek (depression) areas of Juba received beneficial floods during the same month. More recently, in the second dekad of April, flooding in parts of Middle Shabelle (Balad and Jowhar) inundated arable lands and disrupted commodity and population movement.

According to the satellite-derived eVIIRS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data for April 11-20, widespread improvement is visible in many areas in the southern, central, and northern regions due to the early, unusual rains in those areas. However, large deficits are still visible in some parts of the country, especially in the southern and central regions (Figure 3). The NOAA Climate Prediction Center's seven-day weather forecast through April 30 predicts light to moderate or heavy rainfall across most areas of the country (Figure 4).

Figure 3

eVIIRS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) anomalies, April 11-20, 2023 compared to 2012-2021 mean
vegetation is average to above-average across most of the country, but there are many areas with below-average conditions in the southern and central regions

Source: USGS

Figure 4

Global Forecast System (GFS) rainfall forecast in mm for April 24-30, 2023
moderate to heavy rainfall is forecast across most of the country

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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