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12 August 2011

Africa Update #42: Deficits growing, and spreading, in west Africa

Rainfall deficits have spent the last week growing and spreading in west and central Africa. Precipitation is now only at or above normal in Mali, Burkina Faso and parts of the Central African Republic. Just about every other country is facing deficits to one degree or another. In Ethiopia, although moisture isn't quite meeting climatology, rainfall has been consistent all season long.

Precipitation over much of western and central Africa has been disappointing at best, and dangerous to livelihoods at worst. Only Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo and Central African Republic have managed to have a good wet season so far. Meanwhile poor rainfall has the potential to seriously disrupt food security in Senegal (including the critical Ground Nut basin), Niger (especially in the far west, the countries breadbasket), Nigeria, Cameroon, and both North and South Sudan. Chad, and the countries along the Atlantic coast have faired marginally better. The problems here pale in comparison to the ongoing famine in Somalia, but the impacts of a failed crop over this large an area could be severe. Drinking water, crops and pastures have all being impacted.

In the east, although the precipitation in Ethiopia has been sub-par, it has been consistent. This has prevented any serious widespread shocks to pastures or crops. Rainfall continuing this way would result in only the slightest of reductions in yields.

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