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

27 November 2018

The 12-month forecast through July 2019 indicates a vast block of exceptional water deficits in northern Africa from eastern Algeria and northern Mali to the Red Sea. Other areas of intense deficits include northern Democratic Republic of the Congo reaching north into Central African Republic; southern Cameroon; western Ethiopia; central Somalia around the Shebelle River; and southwestern Namibia.

Deficits are expected to be extreme along the Blue Nile and the Atbara Rivers, and severe along the White Nile.

Surpluses are forecast for scattered pockets of West Africa and some pockets in eastern Tanzania into Kenya.

Generally moderate deficits are forecast for much of the remainder of the continent. Severe deficits are expected in parts of Madagascar.

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

The forecast through January indicates that exceptional deficits in Africa will shrink considerably, but moderate to severe deficits are forecast across much of the northern half of the continent along with some large exceptional pockets and scattered smaller pockets of both deficit and surplus (purple/pink). Areas of exceptional deficit include southeastern Algeria, the Nile River, the White Nile and parts of the Blue Nile, northwestern Nigeria into Benin and southeastern Nigeria, southern Cameroon, and northwestern Kenya. Other areas of intense deficit include western Ethiopia, northern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) into Central African Republic (CAR), Rwanda and Burundi, Angola’s southwestern coast, and west-central Madagascar. Moderate deficits are forecast for most of DRC and into northern Zambia, and mild deficits in southern Africa.

Surpluses are forecast for south-central Chad and in scattered pockets around the Gulf of Guinea including Liberia, eastern Guinea, central Ghana and Togo, coastal Nigeria, southeastern Cameroon, southern Republic of the Congo, and spanning the westernmost border of DRC and Angola. Some surpluses are also expected to linger in northeastern Tanzania.

From February through March severe to exceptional deficits will emerge in northwestern Africa, and intense deficits are forecast across the north to the Red Sea, including deficits along the Blue Nile and Atbara Rivers, and in western Ethiopia. Aforementioned surpluses around the Gulf of Guinea will transition to deficit or conditions of both deficit and surplus, except in Liberia and northeastern Ghana. Surpluses will remain intense in Liberia. Conditions in East Africa may return to near-normal but moderate deficits will persist in DRC with more severe deficits in the north and into CAR around the Uele and Bomu Rivers. Mild deficits in southern Africa are expected to intensify slightly in some areas. Water conditions in Madagascar will normalize.

During the final quarter – May through July – intense deficits will increase across northern Africa as exceptional deficits emerge from Liberia and northern Niger to the Red Sea. Moderate deficits are forecast for much of the remainder of the continent, but deficits may be more intense in central Somalia surrounding the Shebelle River, and southern Angola into Namibia and the Okavango Delta in Botswana.

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

Nigeria declared a flood emergency in five states after heavy flooding last month, just weeks after declaring a national disaster in four states in September. Flooding in the southern state of Anambra killed at least ten people and destroyed 15 houses. At least 200 people have been killed by floods in Nigeria this year, and a report released by the National Emergency Management Agency last month put the number of affected people at 1.9 million. Flooding halted operations at the Sunti Golden Sugar Estate, impeding its projected goal of producing 4,500 metric tons of sugarcane per day.

Flash flooding in Tunisia killed at least six people last month. Citizens reportedly blame authorities for failing to clear debris from drainage systems and seasonal riverbeds despite the predictability of autumnal heavy rains.

Warning of worsening flooding last month prompted hundreds of families in Kenya’s Tana River County to evacuate their homes, often leaving their possessions behind. At the same time, Kenyans were advised to harvest rainwater during this rainy season in anticipation of water shortages predicted in December.

At least 41 people were killed in the Bududa district of Uganda by a landslide resulting from a river bursting its banks following heavy rainfall. An elementary school was among multiple buildings that were destroyed. Hundreds of people were displaced.

A strong thunderstorm in the city of Tshwane, Gauteng Province, South Africa caused flash floods and power outages across the city. Two people are suspected to have drowned in the Apies River during the flooding.

Western Cape Province of South Africa will receive R974 million (USD 70.3 million) in drought relief from the South African National Treasury and the National Disaster Management Centre. Agricultural production has been halted for the past two years due to drought in the area.

The Sudanese irrigation minister says that Sudan, Ethiopia, and Egypt have made progress toward setting a timeline for filling Ethiopia’s controversial 6,000-megawatt Grand Renaissance Dam. Since the project’s initiation Egypt has been concerned with the Dam’s control over the Nile River, the country’s main water source. In August, the project’s completion target of 2020 was pushed back by several years.

Since 2000, 93 of 357 global water conflicts took place in sub-Saharan Africa, according to a United States think tank.

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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