Africa: Water deficits will persist in northern Africa & on Kafue River in Zambia

23 August 2018

The 12-month forecast (below) indicates exceptional water deficits in a vast block across northern Africa from southeastern Algeria to the Red Sea. Intense surpluses are expected in East Africa.

Other areas of exceptional deficit include eastern Eritrea, Djibouti, westernmost Somaliland, Gabon, and southwestern Namibia. Moderate deficits are forecast for many other parts of Africa, with more intense deficits in central Algeria, northern Mali, western Ethiopia, and the Middle Orange River watershed in South Africa.

Severe to exceptional surpluses are forecast for northern Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and southwestern Central African Republic into Cameroon. Surpluses of generally lesser intensity are expected in eastern Ghana, central Burkina Faso, southwestern and northeastern Nigeria, central Chad, central Malawi, northeastern Mozambique, and northern Madagascar.

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

The forecast through October indicates that exceptional deficits will shrink in the north and along the Red Sea, and will nearly disappear from the rest of the continent. However, intense deficits are forecast from Algeria through Egypt and northern Sudan, and are expected to be exceptional in southern Libya. Surpluses will persist in northern Morocco and along Algeria’s central coast. Mild deficits are forecast across the Sahel.

The forecast for the remainder of the continent indicates a patchwork of water anomalies, the most intense of which are surpluses in East Africa, including Tanzania, Kenya, eastern Uganda, and along the Lukuga River from Lake Tanganyika into Democratic Republic of the Congo. Surpluses nearly as intense are expected in northernmost Madagascar, and at the conjoined borders of Cameroon, Central African Republic, and Republic of the Congo. Moderate to severe surpluses are forecast for eastern Ghana, central Burkina Faso, southwestern Nigeria and northeastern Nigeria leading across central Chad, westernmost Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the northern stretch of the Lualaba River (Congo), and northwestern Zambia around Lake Bangweulu.

Severe to extreme deficits will persist in Gabon, DRC, and across the continent in the Horn of Africa. Intense deficits will also persist in Zambia’s Kafue River watershed and pockets of southern Madagascar.

The forecast for November through January indicates moderate deficits across the north peppered with more intense pockets. Exceptional deficits will emerge in western Mauritania and northern Senegal. Surpluses will diminish somewhat around the northern Gulf of Guinea; nearly disappear at the intersection of Cameroon, Central African Republic, and Republic of the Congo; and downgrade in East Africa, but emerge nearby in northern Zambia, Malawi, and northern Mozambique. Deficit conditions in the Kafue River watershed in Zambia are expected to return to near-normal.

The forecast for the final quarter – February through April – indicates the emergence of intense deficits in Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Mali, and Niger. Surpluses in East Africa will diminish and downgrade.

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

Flash floods have gripped parts West Africa over the last several weeks. At least 40 people and 260 livestock were killed in flooding in Nigeria and thousands were displaced. Torrential rains in Niger killed 22 people and left thousands homeless. The flooding destroyed 3,000 homes and almost 4,000 hectares (9,884 acres) of crops, just over a month after the U.N. warned of an increasing food crisis in Africa’s Sahel region, including Niger. In western Cameroon, hundreds of people were stranded due to flooding and landslides. Flooding overtook thousands of acres of farmlands in northern Ghana amid a two-day downpour. A six-year-old child was swept to her death in Benin, prompting protests by a number of youths against officials to recover the body and secure drainage systems to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

The towns of Hankey and Patensie in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa plan to shut off water to ration dwindling supplies in the Kouga Dam. Rainwater tanks were placed throughout the towns by the Kouga Municipality, which warned that the city will be out of water within three months if no rain falls in the dam’s catchment area.

The project manager of the regionally-contentious Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam was apparently murdered last month. He was found in Addis Ababa inside his parked car with a bullet wound. The GERD will become Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam upon completion.

Drought in the Black Sea region has forced Egypt, the world’s largest importer of wheat, to pay the highest price for the grain in over three years.

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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