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Weekly Updates: Africa | Asia | Latin America

20 May 2011

Africa Update #30: Acute Food Security Emergency in GHA

The biggest event going on in Africa the world, as far as meteorology and food security is concerned, is the second consecutive failed wet season in the Greater Horn of Africa (GHA). The impacts of this could develop into a famine, but at the least the situation has reached the "Emergency" stage. Elsewhere, rainfall is starting up well in the western Sahel, however closer to the GHA, Sahelian rains have been poor. In the north, dry weather continues in Libya, as moderate rainfall continues across Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.

Although the rain is coming down now at a reasonable rate, it is way to late to make any difference for crops. The rains are also threatening to kill people and livestock, whose immune systems have been weakened by poor food and water availability over the past several months. The only good news with the arrival of the rains is that there is now drinking water and pasture (for grazing livestock) available in most areas of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Southern Sudan and Uganda. Northeastern Kenya, however, still has yet to receive rainfall this season, in the area shown as less than 1 % of normal above. Food prices are rapidly increasing, as is food insecurity.  Much of central Somalia is now classified as an "Emergency", one step below "Famine" by FEWSNET. Nearby areas of Kenya and Ethiopia are slightly better and listed as "Crisis".  Rainfall normally cuts off in the GHA around June 1st, with the exception of the areas near Lake Victoria and northern Ethiopia. There isn't enough time for short cycle crops to be planted and grown, even if rains remained decent. Long range outlooks are still fuzzy on the next growing season in northern and western Ethiopia (closely associated with the Sahel wet season), or on the October - December rains in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia. That is how long the GHA will have to wait for the potential of a good cropping season.

To the west, rainfall has been under performing in Sudan, Chad, Cameroon and Nigeria. A great week, however in Central African Republic has eliminated the early season deficit. Rainfall is also slightly off in Niger, but from Burkina Faso and Mali to points westward, precipitation surpluses are widespread. Moisture will not be abundant this week, as rainfall looks like it will be slightly suppressed across the Sahel and the Gulf of Guinea, although nothing suggests that this will be a long-term trend.

Northern Africa has been having a great rains so far this season. Another wet week in Morocco (but without the flooding of past weeks), Algeria and Tunisia. Libya remained dry as the civil war presses on. Similar conditions are likely to continue into next week.

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