By Andrew S.K Kaggwa, NECJOGHA

There are fears of a drought after all the meteorological organisations of East Africa and regional climate monitoring organisations predicted poor rainfall for this season.

The September to December (SOND) and October to December (OND) constitutes a major rainfall season for all countries of East Africa.

However, the regional meteorological organisations namely; the Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD), Tanzania Meteorological Authority (TMA), Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA) and the Rwanda Meteorological Agency (RMA) in their seasonal outlooks predicted poor rainfall for most parts of the respective countries. Regional bodies which monitor climate and famine have also warned of drought. These are the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) and the Famine Early Warning Network (FEWS NET).

Early this month UNMA and RMA released their September -October- November – December (SOND) seasonal outlook whereas KMD and TMA released their October – November – December (OND) outlook all pointing to a poor rainfall season.  The difference in SOND and OND emanates on the difference in the onset of rains with rains in Uganda and Rwanda beginning a month earlier.

“Most global climate and weather forecasting models predict La Nina condition is likely to develop over the OND season. During OND 2021, it is expected that most parts of the country will experience depressed (below average) rainfall that will be poorly distributed in both time and space,” the seasonal outlook for OND released by KMD reads in part.

All the met organizations point to the similar reasons for the poor rainfall season.

“The below average Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) over the western Equatorial Indian Ocean (adjacent to the East African coastline), coupled with warmer than average SSTs over the eastern Equatorial Indian Ocean (adjacent to Australia). This constitutes a negative Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) that is not favourable for good rainfall over most of East Africa. Also, Equatorial Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are near-to-below average across most of the equatorial Pacific Ocean which implies that El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) neutral conditions are present,” said the met organisations.

During the Fifty Ninth Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (GHACOF59) which was held virtually in August, climate scientists from the region predicted a drier than usual rainfall season.

“The food security and nutrition situation are likely to worsen especially in the arid and semi-arid regions, requiring the need for expanding humanitarian assistance and interventions across the region,” Dr. Guleid Artan, the Director General of ICPAC told participants. Its during GHACOF that climate scientists using models reach a consensus on the seasonal outlook for the region which is later downscaled by national meteorological organisations.

FEWSNET, in a press release on August 11th 2021 had also warned of food shortage in the region in 2022 due to conflict and weather shocks.  FEWSNET is a regional provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity.

According to FEWSNET, food insecurity due to conflict was expected in Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Yemen.

“In addition to conflict, weather shocks continue to be a main driver of crisis outcomes in the East Africa region. In the eastern Horn and northern Uganda, for example, many households have already lost food and income due to the impacts of irregular rainfall on crop and livestock production in early-to-mid 2021. Multiple climate forecast models also predict a third consecutive below-average rainfall season will occur in the eastern Horn in late 2021. A multi-season drought is expected to further diminish household and market food stocks, suppress household income from crop and livestock-related labour and sales, push up food and water prices,” the FEWS NET press release said.

Besides the dry conditions, ICPAC warned that warmer than usual temperatures are expected across the region inn particular in eastern Kenya to Somalia, eastern parts of Ethiopia, and eastern Sudan.

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