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16 September 2011

Africa Update #47: Heavy rainfall continues across central Africa

Precipitation continued to come down heavily from eastern Niger down to Lake Victoria. Meanwhile season-long deficits are starting to get too high to ignore across Cote d'Ivorie and Ethiopia. Continued poor rainfall in North Sudan and Eritrea has caused major damage to cropping activities. Most of west Africa, however has maintained good ground moisture throughout the season.

Heavy rainfall soaked a section of Africa covering eastern Niger, Chad, western North Sudan, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Uganda and western Kenya. The precipitation is welcome across most areas, but in Uganda and western Kenya, the excessive moisture has triggered localized flooding, especially close to Lake Victoria. The lake itself has not flooded, but the small rivers and marshes near Lake Victoria have become inundated with water flowing towards the lake.

The heavy downpours in central Africa, have pulled moisture away from locations further east. Eritrea, and nearby parts of North Sudan, have had poor here all season long. In Ethiopia rainfall has been well distributed, but sub-par. The past two weeks have ended hopes of making a season that had below-average rains make up for it with well distributed moisture. Minor crop damage is now likely scattered across the country.

In the west rainfall has declined too, however it will take a more extended period of dryness to make substantial dent into what has been a relatively good season. The major exceptions to this are Cote d'Ivorie and Nigeria. In Cote d'Ivorie, rainfall began slacking off in August, and that has continued into September. This is putting subsistence farming and the cocoa crop at risk. In Nigeria, rainfall has actually improved from early season deficits, receiving moderate rainfall that has spilled over from the higher totals that have fallen further east.

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