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Dry spell prolonged in central and northeastern areas

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Tanzania
  • March 2015
Dry spell prolonged in central and northeastern areas

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected outlook through June 2015
  • Key Messages
    • In the central unimodal regions, an extended dry spell from mid-February to late March, caused moisture stress of crops in some areas. However, with average rains in the final two weeks of March, more of the crop is likely to reach the grain-filling stage.

    • Land-use conflict led to a cropping ban in Kiteto District, which has drastically reduced agricultural labor demand. Labor migration from Dodoma to these areas typically occurs from March to June. Incomes and purchasing power will likely be lower than normal for poor households in Dodoma as a result. These households will likely be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) until their local harvests in May. 

    • In the northern and northeastern bimodal areas, the March to May Masika rains have not yet started, and they will likely be average to below-average in amount. These areas had a below-average harvest following the September to December Vuli rains. Casual labor demand during this season may be lower than normal, and households will likely remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through June, when green harvests begin. 


    Central Rift Valley in Singida and Dodoma Regions
    • Chicken sales are low due to losses from Newcastle disease in September.
    • Low local casual labor demand
    • Labor for weeding and harvesting will be limited due to a land conflict in their typical migratory areas
    • Early cessation and reduced rainfall will likely result in below normal Msimu harvests

    Northeastern, bimodal lowlands in Tanga, Kilimanjaro, and Arusha Regions

    • A below-average harvest due to poor October to December Vuli rainfall.
    • Pasture and water are less available than normal due to below-average Masika rains.
    • The late onset of Masika rains is delaying farm activities and thus casual labor to poor households
    • Below-normal Masika rains may reduce casual labor demand and reduce milk availability for sales and household consumption 


    Projected outlook through June 2015

    Seasonal progress: Low pressure from the north and south is causing the rain convergence zone to be inconsistent, delaying the start of the season in some areas. In bimodal areas, land preparation for Masika season is ongoing, however, the month-late onset of rains is delaying labor income from agricultural activities for poor households. Warm sea surface temperatures and weak winds from the Pacific and Indian Oceans are subduing rainfall for the central areas. Field reports indicate soil moisture has been low as the late vegetative and tassling stages arrive, however rainfall in the final two weeks of March has provided substantial moisture for grain-filling. 

    Cereal supply is adequate across the country: An estimated 650,000 metric tonne (MT) surplus is still available from the 2013/14 harvest from the bimodal and unimodal areas. Food supplies will likely remain stable through the end of June when unimodal harvests are available.

    Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity is expected through the end of June in most areas. Households will continue to access food from their own food stocks or through the market with casual labor income and the current low food prices. However, if suppressed rainfall continues to reduce or delay green and dry harvests, some households in the transitional rainfall areas of Southern Kigoma, Tabora, Shinyanga, and Southern Manyara may be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) by April/May.

    The following areas were discussed in detail in FEWS NET- Tanzania’s January report. Updates are provided below.

    Thenortheastern bimodal lowlands in Tanga, Kilimanjaro, and Arusha Regions

    Forecasts indicate below-normal rains in addition to the two to three week late onset of the start of the March to May Masika rains. Below-average rainfall may not support enough crop production to replenish household food stores. This may lead to an early onset of the lean season in October, two month earlier than normal. Additionally, casual labor demand for agricultural activities throughout the season may be below normal, lowering further the household purchasing power by April/May. Below-normal Masika season production would lead to an increase in the number of food insecure households as a result of low casual labor demand and food stocks. The anticipated recovery with the harvest in June will likely not occur as expected and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) will likely extend into September.

    The Central Rift Valley in Dodoma and Singida Regions

    Households remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2). The unimodal season in Dodoma started in late December and continued normally through mid-February. A normal dry spell started in mid-February, but has extended beyond the typical 10 to 15 days. The forecast for these areas shows the below-normal rains ending in late March or early April, which may not provide enough cumulative rainfall for crops to reach maturity. Casual weeding labor typically ends with the dry spell in February and labor migration begins. As a result of a land-use conflict in the Kiteto District of the Manyara region over access to the fertile agricultural and cattle grazing lands, the government banned maize production in these areas. Labor demand will likely continue to be significantly lower than usual until harvesting starts in May, lasting until June. Migrating laborers may travel to Tanga region, but the rainfall forecast is similarly average to below-average but agricultural activities are ongoing.

    In June, demand for agricultural labor will likely increase for the harvesting period, allowing households to recover. Green and dry harvests may be delayed for all crops. Significant reductions in maize production and minor reductions in millet and sorghum are likely due to the extensive dry period in the middle of the agricultural season. 


    Figure 1


    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2

    Figure 1. NDVI Anomaly: March 20, 2015

    Source: USGS

    Figure 3

    Figure 2. Cumulative Rainfall Estimate, Arusha

    Source: USGS

    Figure 3


    In remote monitoring, a coordinator typically works from a nearby regional office. Relying on partners for data, the coordinator uses scenario development to conduct analysis and produce monthly reports. As less data may be available, remote monitoring reports may have less detail than those from countries with FEWS NET offices. Learn more about our work here.

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