The Big Picture
The 12-month map ending in December 2016 (below) shows the predominance of water deficits in North Africa. Deficits are also evident across southern Africa, especially South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Mozambique. Surpluses are expected in northern Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, western Ethiopia, Eritrea, and parts of the Sahel.*

The prolonged drought in southern Africa has had severe negative effects on food security, the economy, power production, and general welfare. Malawi has declared a state of emergency as maize production dropped 12 percent, leaving 2.8 million people - nearly 20% of the population - facing food insecurity. Food shortages in Mozambique have affected 1.5 million people, forcing the government to import foodstuffs. South Africa's maize crop is down 30%, inflation was at 7% in February - the highest in seven years, and milk production is down which could lead to a 60 cent per litre increase in prices. Meanwhile, South Africa's President Zuma survived a recent impeachment vote, prompted by allegations of misuse of government funds. Severe drought has cut water levels at Zambia's Karibe Dam and sent crippling blackouts throughout the country.

Forecast Breakdown
The 3-month composites (below) illustrate the evolution of water anomalies in greater detail. The widespread and exceptional water deficits which dominated much of Africa January through March are forecast to diminish in severity from April through December. However, as the 3-month maps clearly show, deficits will persist in some areas. Deficits across North Africa are forecast to be exceptional in Niger and Algeria over the coming six months. Severe (10-20 year) to exceptional (greater than 40 year) deficits are expected in northern Niger, southern Somalia and eastern Kenya through June; and in Zambia through September. Abnormal to severe deficits across much of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are evident April through September, and are especially noticeable as they trace a path that follows the Rivers Congo and Kasai.

Surpluses are forecast to continue to emerge in Burkina Faso, persisting through June, then reemerge in August, and emerge eastward across the Sahel in southern Chad and Sudan July through December. A pocket of exceptional surpluses is forecast to emerge in June in South Sudan from the White Nile eastward, then spread and persist in the months that follow. From July through December surpluses are also forecast for Eritrea, central and western Ethiopia, and Uganda, which could become extreme in central Ethiopia; and through September in northern Mozambique.

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

* Please note that effective March 28, 2016 NOAA changed the initialization procedure for CFSv2 to address issues with unrealistically cold sea surface temperatures in the Tropical Atlantic Ocean. As a result, this month's Watch List is based on an ensemble of 14 CFSv2 forecasts issued after this fix was implemented instead of the normal 28. For more information see and


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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