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Average to above-average and well distributed rainfall over most of the region except for parts of the west

  • Seasonal Monitor
  • West Africa
  • November 19, 2019
Average to above-average and well distributed rainfall over most of the region except for parts of the west

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  • Key Messages
  • Update on Seasonal Progress
  • Forecasts
  • Key Messages
    • The 2019 rainy season that was characterized by mostly average to above average rainfall (Figure 1) has practically come to an end.

    • The significant planting delays experienced during the first part of the season did not prevent Senegal and Mauritania from achieving an average harvest. 

    • The season’s agro-climatological conditions have been mostly favorable to crop and pasture growth and development in the region.

    • Average to above average crop harvests are expected in the region, but pasture production is below average in the western part of the Sahel (Figure 2 and Figure 3).

    Update on Seasonal Progress
    • This season rains generally started on time. The monthly rainfall totals analysis showed that in June many areas experienced severe deficits, however, rainfall time distribution was very good.  It was only the agro-pastoral areas of Mali, southern Mauritania and Senegal where severe deficits combined with long dry spells prevailed.  In July the region received well distributed average to above average rainfall and while the combined deficits and poor time distribution persisted in the western part of the Sahel the area shrank to only northern Senegal and southwestern Mauritania.  August rainfall was well distributed and above average except for the extreme western Senegal-Mauritania border area. In September rainfall was again mostly average to above average with good time distribution, except the agro-pastoral areas of southeastern Mali, central Niger and eastern Chad that suffered from dryness and poor time distribution.  October rainfall was average to above average over the whole region.
    • Most of the region had a timely onset of rains and received average to above average and/or well distributed rainfall.  This resulted into favorable conditions for both crop and pastures.
    • The western Sahel area (Senegal, Mauritania) experienced below average and poorly distributed rainfall during the first part of the season resulting into significant planting delays.  It was only in early August that the area started receiving near average and well distributed rainfall.  Dryness returned in September, but because of the good time distribution of rainfall its impact on crops was minimal. Furthermore, crops benefitted from above average rainfall that continued until the end of October, extending the growing season by at least two dekads compared to average. 

    • In Senegal, the extension of the season until the end of October made it possible for farmers to achieve good harvests.  The delayed onset of rains had a negative impact on pastures resulting in below average production in northeastern Senegal (Figure 2 and Figure 3).

    • In Mauritania rainfed crops and pastures underwent severe stress due both to a late start and September dryness.  However, the August and October above average rainfall and the late end of the season have resulted in average to above average surface water resources, which was very helpful to recessional and irrigated agriculture systems.  Since recessional and irrigated crops account for above 85 percent of the national production on average, the provisional harvest estimate indicates that crop production to be 15 percent above average.  For pastures, however, production in southwestern Mauritania is expected to be worse than that of northeastern Senegal (Figure 2).  Consequently, an early migration of transhumant herders has been observed.

    • According to the short and medium term forecasts from NOAA/CPC, rainfall is expected only over the bi-modal areas in the next two weeks.
    • The December seasonal forecast NOAA-NCEP indicates below average rainfall during the period that is considered out of season rainfall from now on.
    Figures April-October total rainfall (RFE) anomaly in % of 2007-2016 average: Deficits in Senegal and Mauritania, and parts of Mali,

    Figure 1

    Figure 1.

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    October 1-10 Percent of Median NDVI – Pasture production deficit in Western Sahel: Concern mainly in the border region of Sen

    Figure 2

    Figure 2.

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Current season vegetation performance (NDVI) in Senegal: Low NDVI compared to past years and the average throughout the count

    Figure 3

    Figure 3.

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    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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