The Big Picture
The predominance of exceptional water deficits in North Africa is evident in the 12-month map ending in January 2017 (below). Deficits are also persistent across much of southern Africa, especially South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique. Surpluses are expected in northern Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, and Ethiopia.
After the worst drought in 30 years Morocco's cereal harvest is expected to be down 70 percent from last season, which could send the country's growth rate plunging from 4.4 percent in 2015 to 1 percent in 2016, not a good signal in Morocco's first election year since the "Arab Spring" in 2011. Unemployment was at 10 percent at the end of March. Drought has also adversely impacted agricultural output in Tunisia - birthplace of the Arab Spring - and ongoing security issues have reduced tourism, contributing to Deutsche Bank's projection of GDP growth of 2 percent in 2016, well "below the 5 percent anticipated in the National Development Plan and necessary to reduce unemployment and improve living standards."
Drought impacts continue across southern Africa and have been widely reported. Coca-Cola announced that it will cease canned drink production in Windhoek, Namibia in response to the water crisis and to orders from city officials requiring business to cut water consumption by 30 percent. The ongoing drought has produced significant losses in key wheat-growing areas of South Africa, increasing the likelihood that the nation will have to import two million tons of wheat, the most since 1991.
In East Africa flooding has had devastating impacts in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and other nations. On the heels of a drought that left 10.2 million Ethiopians without food, flooding has killed 50 people, displaced thousands, disrupted food assistance, and drowned drought-weakened livestock. In Nairobi, Kenya a residential building collapsed after days of flooding, killing 50 people. In Tanzania's Morogoro Region 5 died and 14,000 were left homeless; in Zanzibar 2 school children drowned and cholera, dengue, and diarrhea threaten others. Torrential downpours killed 50 in Rwanda.
The 3-month composites (below) illustrate the evolution of water anomalies in greater detail. The geographic distribution of water deficits and surpluses forecast over the next six months (May through October) looks much the same, with some differences in projected severity. From May through July severe (10-20 year) to exceptional (greater than 40 year) deficits are forecast in a band across North Africa from Mauritania to the Red Sea, with exceptional deficits in northern Niger, and widespread deficits across Egypt. Deficits are also forecast May through July in southern Africa from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to South Africa, with greatest severity in Zambia and South Africa. From August through October deficits are forecast to diminish somewhat across North Africa and across the aforementioned areas in the south, though conditions in Zambia and South Africa will remain much the same.
Water surpluses are forecast to persist in northern Mozambique and Tanzania in May, and emerge in Ethiopia and Kenya. Water surpluses will persist in East Africa from May through October, with particular extent and severity in northern Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, and Ethiopia. A pocket of exceptional surpluses is forecast to emerge in July in South Sudan from the White Nile eastward.
(It should be noted that forecast skill declines with longer lead times.)
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