26 March 2019

East Africa, 'Horn' Weather Hostile

MANY parts of the East African Community (EAC) and Horn of Africa countries are fated to experience less rainfall the rest of the current month and the next one, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Climate Prediction and Application Centre (ICPAC) has said.

In a statement released in Nairobi at the weekend, ICPAC said that Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and countries in the Horn of Africa will have rainfall deficits in April as well as high temperatures.

"Forecast of depressed rainfall in areas that experienced anomalously dry conditions beginning October 2018 is a concern, especially in regions where April is the peak rainfall month. In this regard, the conditions in northwestern and south-central Kenya, southern Ethiopia, and central Somalia may require closer follow up, as the increased likelihood of depressed rainfall in peak rainfall month could further exacerbate the situation caused by the mounting dry conditions in theseregions," the forecast warned.

ICPAC said it would provide regional updates on regular basis. It said that while some episodic rainfall events that started in early March this year appeared to give some relief to the dryness in southern Ethiopia and parts of northwestern Kenya, dry weather conditions, characterised by mostly dry winds and warm temperatures, continued to persist across southeastern Ethiopia, Somalia, and much of Kenya east of the Great Rift Valley, especially northwestern and south central Kenya.

"The dryness in the eastern GHA was largely caused by the Tropical Cyclone named 'IDAI' that lingered in the Mozambique Channel for the better part of March 2019. This cyclone significantly reduced moisture influx into the equatorial region, which led to a continued sunny and dry weather conditions over the region," it said.

Assessment of rainfall conditions from October 2018 through 10 March 2019 underscore the prevalence of moderate to severely dry conditions over southern Ethiopia (Borena including southern Rift Valley Lakes and surrounding regions), central Somalia, south central Kenya, western Tanzania bordering Lake Tanganyika, Burundi and Rwanda.

The northwestern Kenya, especially Turkana showed consistently below average cumulative rainfall as compared to the long term mean beginning July 1st last year. ICPAC said that the review of updated rainfall conditions in the Greater Horn of Africa (GHA) during February 2019 showed that a series of early wet spells brought wetter than average rainfall in the western parts of GHA from Uganda to South Sudan extending to western and northeastern Ethiopia.

"Few places in Southern Tanzania, coastal Kenya and parts of Southern Somalia also experienced wetter conditions in February 2019. On the other hand, drier conditions persisted along the Great (Eastern) Rift Valley and surrounding regions extending from Ethiopia through Turkana and central Kenya to northern Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda," it expounded on the inconsistency.

Strategic objectives of ICPAC as laid down by IGAD include providing timely climate early warning information and supporting specific sector applications for the mitigation of the impacts of climate variability and change for poverty alleviation, management of environment and sustainable development.

It also seeks to improve the technical capacity of producers and users of climatic information, in order to enhance the use of climate monitoring and forecasting products in climate risk management and environment management.

It develops an improved, proactive, timely, broad-based system of information and product dissemination and feedback, at both sub-regional and national scales through national partners.

It is tasked to expand the climate knowledge base and applications within the sub-region in order to facilitate informed decision making on climate risk related issues and maintain quality controlled databases and information systems required for risk, vulnerability assessment, mapping and general support to the regional climate risk reduction strategies.

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