The dominant water security issues of interest in Africa continue to be drought in Coastal West Africa and Southern Africa, and water surpluses in Tanzania and surrounding regions, as apparent in the 12-month map below which shows 3 months of observed data and 9 months of forecast data.

South Africa's province of Free State, which produced 44 percent of the nation's corn in 2014, declared a drought disaster. The World Food Program has warned that 1.5 million Zimbabweans will face food shortages as staple crop production has been reduced by 50 percent. The drought threatens Zimbabwe's modest economic growth in recent years, and has led to conflicts as people flee to more fertile regions. In East Africa the potential for El Niño-triggered flooding has coffee industry authorities in Uganda and Kenya concerned about landslides and fungus.

The 3-month composites for the same 12-month period show the evolving conditions in more detail. Notable are the exceptional surpluses expected to dominate East Africa through May, and the widespread deficits across the northern third of the continent (particularly the northwest) in the March through May forecast.

In addition, Coastal West Africa may continue to experience water deficits through May 2016, which may reach far inland to non-coastal areas as well. Exceptional deficits are expected to affect coastal regions of Liberia, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon, and may extend farther south in the months to follow.

In Southern Africa conditions are forecast to moderate through November. However, severe (10-20 year) deficits may emerge in December and extreme (20-40 year) to exceptional (greater than 40 year) deficits are possible through May, affecting Namibia, South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.

Water surpluses are expected in parts of East Africa in October which may become exceptional and widespread through May 2016 centering on Tanzania and also present in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, northern Zambia, northern Mozambique, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, and southern Ethiopia. 

Exceptional deficits are forecast for a large portion of northwest Africa from Mauritania through western Libya and Chad beginning in February and persisting through May. Severe to exceptional deficits are expected across the remainder of northern Africa.

(It should be noted that forecast skill declines with longer lead times.)


Many analyses reported in ISciences-authored blog posts are based on data generated by the ISciences Water Security Indicator Model (WSIM). Other sources, if used, are referenced in footnotes accompanying individual posts. WSIM is a validated capability that produces monthly reports on current and forecast global freshwater surpluses and deficits with lead times of 1-9 months at 0.5°x0.5° resolution. This capability has been in continuous operation since April 2011 and has proven to provide reliable forecasts of emerging water security concerns in that time-frame. WSIM has the ability to assess the impacts of water anomalies on people, agriculture, and electricity generation. Detailed data, customized visualizations, and reports are available for purchase.

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