The drought situation has worsened across northern South Africa, southern Mozambique, Madagascar, Angola and Zimbabwe amid indications of the possible continuation of poor rains over the region into early January, warns the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET).
In its latest Weather Hazards Bulletin for the period from 29 December 2017 to 4 January 2018, FEWSNET said persisting drought conditions continued to threaten early planted crops across the African continent.
According to FEWSNET, the rainfall outlook for Southern Africa suggests the continuation of a pattern of patchy rains that are doing very little to relieve region-wide moisture stress.
“Several areas in northern South Africa, eastern Botswana, Zimbabwe and southern Mozambique have been experiencing little rainfall accumulation since late November, with the greatest moisture deficits (25% of normal) concentrated over the Gaza and Inhambane provinces of Mozambique and across the border in the Limpopo Province of South Africa.
“In western Madagascar, seasonal moisture deficits have also strengthened. Little change in rainfall distribution is expected during late December and early January across Southern Africa,” FEWSNET said.
Although east-central South Africa has benefited from above average rains that began late in November, the northern and west-central areas have reported moderate to large moisture deficits in the past month.
In the period up to 4 January 2018, the highest rainfall totals are expected over Angola, southern Democratic Republic of Congo and northern Zambia. Limited rains are forecast for most countries located south of the Zambezi River during the same period.
According to the analysis, farmers across East Africa will continue to face persistent drought conditions that are characterised by varying degrees of moisture stress.
“Isolated showers were registered (early in December) across portions of Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and northern Tanzania, with the bulk of the highest rainfall totals received throughout western Tanzania.
“The absence of rainfall in late December marks the fifth consecutive week of below-average rainfall since mid-November. The lack of rainfall during the month of December has resulted in widespread moisture deficits, where several regions in Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania have received much less than a quarter of their normal rainfall accumulation,” the analysis said.
The dry weather is expected to continue into January across all of East Africa, although light rains are seen as likely in southern and eastern Kenya, as well as northern Tanzania.
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