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Somalia: East Africa Seasonal Monitor: May 16, 2019

Source: Famine Early Warning System Network, US Geological Survey
Country: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Yemen

Late April and early May rainfall unlikely to ease on-going severe drought in Eastern Horn


• Below-average rainfall performance, abnormally high land surface temperatures, and poor vegetation conditions continued in April over much of the equatorial sector of East Africa. Drought conditions persist despite an increase in rainfall in late April and early May, which was driven in part by the presence of tropical cyclone Kenneth.

• Conversely, parts of southwestern, central, and northeastern regions of Ethiopia and much of Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania continued to receive average to well above average rainfall amounts during this period.

• The rainfall forecast calls for sustained moderate to very heavy rainfall along southern Kenya and northern Tanzania’s coastal regions, as well as parts of the western and northern sector of the region. Meanwhile, the eastern Horn is likely to experience a normal cessation of the March–May seasonal rains in the coming weeks.


In April, below-average rainfall persisted across Uganda, South Sudan, eastern and southern Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, and parts of northeastern Tanzania. According to the latest estimated rainfall anomalies map for April, the worst-affected areas include northeastern Uganda, greater Equatoria region of South Sudan, southern Oromia and Somali regions of Ethiopia, southern Somalia, and Kenya, where cumulative rainfall deficits exceeded 75 mm (Figure 1). April is typically the peak month of the March – May rainfall season. Late April and early May brought an increase in rainfall, but this is unlikely to significantly alleviate ongoing drought conditions. Although the rains have partially replenished rangeland resources in some localized areas, the rainfall is generally too light and too late in the season to significantly improve agricultural production prospects in marginal agricultural areas in the eastern Horn. The exception is likely to be the Shabelle, Juba, and Bay/Bakool regions, which are expected to benefit from forecast average rainfall in the JulySeptember Xagaa season.

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Meanwhile, the rest of Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, parts of southwestern Uganda, and southwestern, central, and northeastern Ethiopia continued to receive average to well above-average rainfall in April, resulting in favorable cropping and rangeland conditions. The recent enhanced rainfall across the region is attributed to the conducive eastward track of tropical cyclone Kenneth, which was present over the coastal regions of southern Tanzania and northern Mozambique.

The latest vegetation anomalies, based on the eMODIS/Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, continue to depict vast areas of exceptionally drier-than-normal vegetation conditions across Kenya, northeastern Tanzania, northeastern Uganda, Somalia, eastern and southern Ethiopia, and southeastern South Sudan (Figure 2). Current rainfall is expected to slightly improve vegetation conditions in the short-term, partially regenerating pasture and replenishing surface water resources.

However, in marginal agricultural areas, recently planted maize crops that are in the emergent stages are below-average due to the significantly shortened length of the growing period, including in eastern and southern Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, and parts of southern Belg-cropping areas of Ethiopia.
According to reports from the Food Security and Nutrition Working Group (FSNWG), the eastern Horn remains in moderate to severe drought conditions, with northward expansion of drought into eastern Ethiopia, northern Somalia, and Djibouti, based on current assessments and the rainfall outlook for May and June.


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