21 May 2018

The 12-month forecast (below) indicates exceptional water deficits from southeast Algeria and northern Niger, across Libya, Egypt, and northern Sudan. Farther south, deficits of equal intensity are expected in Gabon and a pocket in southwest Namibia. Deficits nearly as intense are forecast for southern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), south-central Angola, and along Madagascar’s west-central coast.

Severe deficits are expected in Zambia, particularly in the west, and throughout much of Angola.

Exceptional surplus conditions are forecast for much of Tanzania and surpluses nearly as intense in Kenya, northern Uganda, and northern Madagascar. Surpluses are also forecast for: northern Morocco, the central coast of Algeria, southern Sudan, the White Nile, south-central Ethiopia, and central Madagascar.

The 3-month maps (below) show the evolving conditions in greater detail.

The forecast through July indicates that the extent of exceptional deficits across northern Africa will diminish, but severe to exceptional deficits are forecast for Libya, northern Niger, Egypt, and northern Sudan. Deficits will shrink and downgrade in Gabon but remain severe, as will deficits in southern DRC. Deficits will persist in western Zambia, and are expected to be extreme on the Kafue River; northwestern Zambia will transition from deficit to moderate surplus, but deficits will persist further east between the Chambeshi River and the borders with Malawi and Mozambique. Relatively mild deficits are forecast for southern Africa.

Exceptional surpluses will persist in Tanzania, Kenya, and northern Uganda, but will diminish somewhat in northern Madagascar. Surpluses will continue to emerge near Kinshasa in DRC but will also emerge to the west approaching the coast, and may be extreme. Extreme surpluses are also expected along the White Nile through South Sudan. Surpluses will persist in south-central Ethiopia, emerge in north-central Ethiopia, and re-emerge in south-central Sudan.

From August through October severe to exceptional deficits will continue in northern Africa, reaching farther west through Algeria and into the northern corner of Mali. Conditions across the Sahel are expected to be relatively normal, with some pockets of moderate surplus south of the Sahel in northwest Nigeria and southern Sudan. Deficits will remain extreme in western Zambia. Moderate deficits are forecast for most of DRC, with severe deficits in the southeast. Deficits in Gabon will continue to downgrade, becoming moderate. Aforementioned surpluses in East Africa will remain intense, and surpluses in Ethiopia will diminish somewhat.

The forecast for the final quarter – November through January – indicates that deficits across northern Africa will moderate and surpluses in East Africa will retreat considerably.

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

Heavy rain continues to cause major flooding events this month in eastern Africa, displacing hundreds of thousands of people in Ethiopia, southern Somalia, and Kenya. In Kenya, floods and landslides have killed over 100 people since March. Dozens of villagers in Nakuru County were killed when floodwaters burst the banks of the Patel dam, built on a commercial farm, and swept away downstream homes overnight. The Kenyan Water Authority claims that the private dam was one of a number on the farm that lack necessary permits. Kenyan officials are investigating.

A new app may save Kenyan herders several days of walking in search of pasture by providing spatial information on fodder and surface water using satellite imagery. The app is already used in Tanzania and Ethiopia, and its use is widening in Kenya and extending soon to Niger.

The Egyptian government is promoting the cultivation of quinoa to conserve water and to reduce dependency on more water-intensive crops like rice. The  Ministry of Irrigation has also restricted area available for rice cultivation, reducing acreage by over 50 percent this season.

Amid increasing pressure on water resources, the Zambian government has established fees for groundwater use. Owners of domestic wells, or boreholes, will now have to pay a one-time fee of 250 kwqcha ($25) to obtain a license. Agricultural officials estimate that Zambia's 2017-18 corn output will be 34 percent below the prior year due to drought, and wheat output is expected to fall by 40 percent.

There are numerous regions around the world where country borders are contested. ISciences depicts country boundaries on these maps solely to provide some geographic context. The boundaries are nominal, not legal, descriptions of each entity. The use of these boundaries does not imply any judgement on the legal status of any territory, or any endorsement or acceptance of disputed boundaries on the part of ISciences or our data providers.

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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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