Africa: Intense water deficits forecast for Nile River & W Ethiopia

25 October 2018

The 12-month forecast through June 2019 indicates intense water deficits in a vast stretch across northern Africa from northern Mali to the Red Sea. Surpluses are forecast for pockets across the southern Sahel, around the northern Gulf of Guinea, and in patches of East Africa. Moderate deficits, punctuated by pockets of greater severity, are forecast for the remainder of the continent.

Deficits are expected to be extreme to exceptional in western Ethiopia; the Blue Nile and the Atbara River; westernmost Somaliland; the intersection of Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo; southwestern Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea; southwestern Namibia; and the Middle Orange River watershed in South Africa.

Regions with surpluses include: southeastern Mauritania, southern Mali, central Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, western and northeastern Nigeria, south-central Chad, and Tanzania, Kenya, and northern Uganda.

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

The forecast through December indicates that intense deficits will shrink considerably across northern Africa but emerge across the southern Sahara and into the Sahel. Extreme deficits are forecast along the Nile, Blue Nile, and Atabara Rivers, and in western Ethiopia and western Somaliland. Severe deficits are forecast for the White Nile through Sudan and for Central African Republic. Mild deficits are forecast for much of Africa’s southern half. Areas of surplus include: southern Mali, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Ghana, coastal and northeastern Nigeria, south-central Chad, Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, southern Kenya, and northeastern Uganda.

From January through March, moderate deficits will dominate much of the continent, though more intense conditions are forecast for: Guinea-Bissau and Guinea; northwestern Mali; northern Nigeria; the Uele River through Central African Republic; the Nile, Atabara, Blue Nile, and White Nile Rivers; western Ethiopia; and southern Somalia. Surpluses will persist in south-central Chad, and some areas of surplus in West Africa will experience both deficit and surplus as transitions occur. Areas of surplus in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania will shrink or normalize.

During the final quarter – April through June – deficits across northern Africa will become much more intense. Some pockets of surplus are forecast for Burkina Faso, northeastern Nigeria, and south-central Chad. Primarily moderate deficit conditions are forecast for the remainder of the continent.

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

Weeks of heavy rainfall caused severe flooding in Nigeria, killing nearly 200 people and displacing around 176,000. Nigeria declared a national disaster in the middle of last month and the president approved $8.2 million in funding for immediate relief. Nigeria’s rainy season occurs annually from July to September, but this year’s has been worse as two major rivers burst their banks and floodwaters swept away homes in the country’s central states.

In neighboring Niger, four people were killed and over 8,000 were displaced last month due to heavy flooding. Property damages were estimated at millions of naira (thousands of USD).

Heavy rain in northern Ghana, another West African nation, flooded the White Volta River, killing at least 34 people and displacing 100,000 since early September.

In North Africa, heavy flooding in northeastern Tunisia killed at least four people after torrential rains late last month, with some areas receiving half the annual precipitation. In East Africa, hours of heavy rainfall caused flash flooding along the Kenyan coast in Kwale, Mombasa, and parts of the Tana River, flooding streets and prompting fears of landslides.

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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