The Big Picture
Exceptional water deficits forecast across North Africa are evident in the 12-month map ending in February 2017 (below). Deficits of varying severity are also expected to persist in many other parts of Africa including: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, southern Malawi, and much of Mozambique. Surpluses are expected in northeastern Mozambique, Tanzania, and the Afar region in northeastern Ethiopia

More than 41.4 million people in the Southern African Development Community are food insecure, according to the 15-member trade bloc, after the worst drought in 35 years. The region is facing a shortfall in cereal production of about 28 percent of requirements and food insecurity is projected to peak from October to March.

In Malawi, over half of the population is in need of food aid as a result of crop loss due to drought. Prices for maize have gone up more than 60 percent above the 3-year average. With the lack of rain, bacteria levels in the country's lakes have increased significantly, resulting in cholera outbreaks that have killed 35 people. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs calculates that, in neighboring Mozambique, 1.5 million people are in need of assistance, primarily subsistence farmers who depend on rain-fed crops.

In the North, farmers in the Nile Delta region of Egypt are caught between the government's ban on water-intensive rice in the region and the high-cash value of rice compared to corn. To eradicate water-intensive crops agents from the Department of Agriculture and the Ministry of Water Resources burn the acreage, which has prompted farmer demonstrations. Egypt has tapped into its strategic water resources and restrictions on the 2016/17 budget of the Irrigation Ministry could impact its ability to manage limited assets.

Forecast Breakdown
Though the extent of exceptional deficits (greater than 40 year return period) across North Africa is forecast to shrink, as seen in the progression of 3-month maps below, many areas will remain in notable conditions of deficit from June through August including: Morocco; Algeria; northern Niger; roughly half of Libya, particularly its coastal areas; Egypt; and northern Sudan. Both deficits and surpluses are expected in Algeria. Deficits will persist in much of Africa’s southern half, with extreme deficits (20 to 40 year expected frequency of occurrence) forecast to persist in Zambia through November. Water surpluses are forecast to persist through November in Tanzania and northeastern Mozambique; surpluses in Afar, Ethiopia could linger through February.

From September through November the areas of exceptional deficit in the North will continue to diminish though many pockets of extreme deficits will persist. In southern Africa, with the exception of Zambia, water deficits are forecast to be less severe during this period.

In the final months of the forecast period severe (10 to 20 year) to extreme (20 to 40 year) water deficits are expected to emerge in West Africa while moderate deficits persist or emerge in much of the remaining continent.

(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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