Africa: Extreme water deficits to persist in W Ethiopia

17 December 2018

The 12-month forecast through August 2019 indicates a vast block of exceptional water deficit in northern Africa from eastern Algeria and northern Mali to the Red Sea. Intense deficits are forecast throughout southern Africa with exceptional deficits in southern Angola, northern and southeastern Namibia, and Northern Cape, South Africa. Other areas of intense deficit include: northern Democratic Republic of the Congo reaching north into Central African Republic; southern Cameroon and Gabon; and Somalia.

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

Areas of surplus include: Tanzania, southeastern Chad, southern Congo, westernmost Democratic Republic of the Congo, and northernmost Angola. Surpluses are expected to reach exceptional intensity in western Tanzania.

Primarily moderate deficits are forecast for much of the remainder of the continent and in Madagascar.

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

The forecast through February indicates that deficits in Africa will downgrade considerably but will leave some notably intense conditions in: western Ethiopia; pockets of northern Somalia, Nigeria, and southwestern Cameroon; southwestern Angola into Namibia; and, Lesotho and the Orange River region of Northern Cape, South Africa. Primarily moderate deficits are forecast across northern Africa peppered with conditions of both deficit and surplus across the southern Sahara. Deficits may be more intense in Western Sahara and western Mauritania. Moderate to severe deficits are forecast for Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Moderate to severe deficits are also forecast throughout southern Africa – with more intense conditions as noted previously – and in western Madagascar.

Exceptional surpluses will persist in western Tanzania leading across Lake Tanganyika into DRC, and moderate surpluses will re-emerge in eastern Tanzania. Surpluses are also forecast in northern Uganda and along the Victoria Nile. Moderate to exceptional surpluses will persist in southern Congo reaching into western DRC and northern Angola. Severe to extreme surpluses are expected to continue in south-central Chad.

From March through May, deficits will intensify considerably across northern Africa and will include large pockets of exceptional deficit in eastern Mauritania, Niger, and northern Sudan. Deficits in western Ethiopia are expected to shrink slightly but the extent of exceptional deficits will increase around Lake Tana in the north. Deficits in central and southern Africa will moderate. Surpluses will nearly disappear in eastern Tanzania and will moderate in the west. Some pockets of moderate surplus are forecast to emerge in northern Kenya. Surpluses will shrink in Chad, re-emerge in the Upper Benue River region of northeastern Nigeria and around northern Lake Volta in Ghana, and retreat from southern Congo, DRC, and Angola.

During the final quarter – June through August – deficits will continue to intensify across northern Africa as exceptional deficits emerge from Liberia to the Red Sea. Moderate deficits are forecast for much of the remainder of the continent but may be more intense in southern Somalia and many pockets in southern Africa, including central Zambia and the Okavango Delta in Botswana. Exceptional deficits are also forecast during this period for western Madagascar.

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

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.

Subscribe to our monthly Water Watch List

Search blog categories

Search blog tags


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.

For more information contact

Copyright 2019 ISCIENCES, L.L.C. Global Water Monitor & Forecast Watch List is the property of ISCIENCES, L.L.C. It is protected by U.S. copyright laws and may not be reproduced in any way without the written permission of ISCIENCES, L.L.C. The user assumes the entire risk related to its use of information on ISCIENCES, L.L.C. Web pages, including information derived from Water Security Indicators Model (WSIM). This information may include forecasts, projections and other predictive statements that represent ISCIENCES, L.L.C.’s assumptions and expectations in light of currently available information and using the highest professional standards. Actual results may differ from those projected. Consequently, no guarantee is presented or implied as to the accuracy of specific forecasts, projections or predictive statements contained herein. ISCIENCES, L.L.C. provides such information "as is," and disclaims any and all warranties, whether express or implied, including (without limitation) any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. In no event will ISCIENCES, L.L.C. be liable to you or to any third party for any direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, special or exemplary damages or lost profit resulting from any use or misuse of this data.