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Drought intensifies in southern and central Somalia due to delayed, poor deyr rainfall

  • Seasonal Monitor
  • Somalia
  • November 3, 2021
Drought intensifies in southern and central Somalia due to delayed, poor deyr rainfall

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The onset of the deyr rains has yet to begin in most of southern and central Somalia, marking a delay of at least 15-30 days depending on the area. According to CHIRPS remote-sensing data, most of the country received less than 10 millimeters (mm) of rainfall during the October 21-31 period. Only a few localized areas in southern and central Somalia received 10-25 mm of rainfall, including parts of Bay, Bakool, Hiraan, Lower and Middle Shabelle, and Galgaduud regions (Figure 1). Compared to the long-term average, rainfall generally performed 11-25 mm below average in southern and central Somalia, though parts of the south experienced larger deficits of 25-50 mm (Figure 2). Although CHIRPS data indicates rainfall in the north was climatologically average, ground information suggests there is a rainfall deficit. As of November 3, SWALIM river station gauge data indicate the Shabelle River has risen above the long-term average at most monitoring points, but the Juba River generally remains below average. Regardless, river levels at all monitoring points are significantly below the moderate and high flood risk stage.

In the northwest, little to no rainfall occurred across most of Awdal, Woqooyi Galbeed, Sanaag, and Sool regions during October 21-31. However, localized areas in Guban Pastoral livelihood zone in Zaylac district in Awdal received more substantial, light to moderate rainfall. In general, rangeland conditions range from average to above average due to rainfall received earlier in the year. However, localized pastoral areas of Sool and Sanaag regions have below-average pasture and water availability, mainly due to the atypical influx of livestock from rain-deficit regions of Bari and Nugaal in search of these resources. There are reports confirming the presence of adult desert locusts in localized areas of West Golis Pastoral and Hawd Pastoral livelihood zones of Togdheer region, with minimal impact on rangeland to date.   

In the northeast, little to no rainfall was reported across most areas during the October 21-31 period. The exceptions include Coastal Deeh Pastoral areas of Bandarbeyla and Iskushuban districts in Bari region and Northern Inland Pastoral areas of Nugaal region, which received light to moderate rainfall. Poor October rainfall has led to deterioration in rangeland conditions, which are currently below average in most livelihood zones. While normal internal livestock migration is ongoing within the northeast, there are reports that pasture and water shortages are driving atypical livestock out-migration from Addun Pastoral and Hawd Pastoral livelihood zones in Nugaal to pastoral areas of Bari, Sanaag, and Sool. 

In central regions, most livelihood zones in Galgaduud and southern Mudug regions experienced dry conditions during the October 21-31 period. Only Hawd Pastoral, Addun Pastoral, Cowpea Agropastoral, and Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zones received localized, light to moderate rainfall with limited to marginal impact on rangeland conditions. Pasture, browse, and water availability is significantly below average, leading to declining livestock body conditions, low productivity, and decreasing sale value in most areas.  

In the south, most regions received little to no rainfall during the October 21-31 period. Most livelihood zones in Gedo and Lower and Middle Juba received only localized, light showers with limited impact on rangelands and crop production. Meanwhile, pastoral and cropping areas in Hiraan, Bakool, Bay, and Lower and Middle Shabelle regions received localized, light to moderate rainfall with marginal to moderate impact on rangelands and crop production. Rain gauge stations recorded 62.5 mm in Baidoa (Bay), 30 mm in Hudur (Bakool), 20 mm in Sakow (Middle Juba), 16 mm in Buloburte (Hiraan), 8 mm in Afgoye (Lower Shabelle), and 2 mm in Jamaame (Lower Juba). Significant internal livestock migration in search of better pasture and water is ongoing across the south, as well as atypical livestock out-migration from Gedo to areas in Ethiopia and atypical livestock in-migration from northeastern Kenya to Lower and Middle Juba. Currently, there is a very low risk of flooding at all SWALIM river water level monitoring areas. However, there are reports that farmers have created localized, intentional river breakages in parts of Jowhar district in Middle Shabelle in order to flood their fields for the cultivation of cereals and other crops.

According to the satellite-derived eMODIS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) for the period of October 21-31, vegetation conditions in most of southern and central Somalia and in localized areas of northern Somalia (e.g., Nugaal region) are significantly below normal (Figure 3). However, most of the north exhibits normal to above-normal vegetation conditions. The seven-day weather forecast from the NOAA Climate Prediction Center through November 10 indicates no rainfall is likely to occur across most of Somalia during the November 4-10 period (Figure 4). With the forecast of suppressed rainfall in the Ethiopian highlands during the same period, the risk of flooding along the Shabelle and Juba rivers remains low.

For more rain gauge data, please contact So-Hydro@fao.org or visit www.faoswalim.org.

Figures Map of Somalia showing Estimated rainfall (CHIRPS Preliminary) in mm, October 21-31, 2021

Figure 1

Figure 1

Source: UC Santa Barbara Climate Hazards Center

Map of Somalia showing Estimated rainfall anomaly (CHIRPS Preliminary) in mm compared to the 1981-2018 average, October 21-31

Figure 2

Figure 2

Source: UC Santa Barbara Climate Hazards Center

Map of Somalia showing eMODIS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) anomaly from 2003-2017 median, October 21-31, 202

Figure 3

Figure 3

Source: USGS

Map of Somalia showing Global Forecast System (GFS) rainfall forecast in mm for November 4-10, 2021

Figure 4

Figure 4

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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