Africa: Water deficits will downgrade overall

18 June 2019

The 12-month forecast through February 2020 indicates water deficits in large pockets across northern Africa, and from the southern Gulf of Guinea into central Africa and through much of the south. Deficits will be exceptional in many areas including southeastern Libya into Egypt, southern Angola, southern Namibia, and Northern Cape, South Africa.

Intense deficits are also forecast in pockets of the Horn of Africa, including southern Somalia, and eastern and southeastern Ethiopia.

Relatively normal water conditions are expected across the Sahel, and primarily moderate deficits in the corner of West Africa from Guinea-Bissau through western Côte d'Ivoire.

Exceptional surpluses are forecast for a large block of western Tanzania and moderate to extreme surpluses in an eastern pocket radiating from Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar. Surpluses are also forecast for northeastern Uganda; pockets of northern Mozambique and northern Madagascar; south of Durban, South Africa; and near Benghazi, Libya.

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

The forecast through August indicates moderate deficits across northern Africa along with large pockets of exceptional deficit in southeastern Libya, Egypt, and northern Sudan. Some areas of both deficit and surplus are also forecast as transitions occur. Conditions in the southern Sahara, the Sahel, and into central Africa are expected to be relatively normal. Deficits in the Horn will downgrade considerably, becoming mild, with a pocket of moderate surplus emerging in central Somalia.

Mild deficits will cover much of Africa’s southern half, punctuated by surpluses in East Africa and pockets of intense deficit in the west from Cameroon through Republic of the Congo. Intense deficits are also forecast for pockets of southern Angola, northern Namibia, and part of the Kalahari Desert in western Botswana. Exceptional surpluses are forecast in western Tanzania with surpluses of lesser intensity in the central and eastern parts of the nation, and in pockets of northern Mozambique, northern Madagascar, and Uganda. Surpluses are also expected in the central Congo Basin of Democratic Republic of the Congo, and in South Africa south of Durban and also west of Johannesburg.

From September through November, deficit anomalies will shrink and downgrade considerably, leaving a sprinkling of moderate deficits in Algeria and Libya along with some intense pockets. Surpluses will persist near Benghazi. In East Africa, surpluses will downgrade but persist in Tanzania, persist also in northern Mozambique, and increase in Uganda, Rwanda, and western Kenya. Moderate surpluses are forecast to emerge along the White Nile in South Sudan.

During the final quarter – December 2019 through February 2020 – surpluses in East Africa will diminish; primarily mild deficits with isolated intense pockets are forecast for West Africa, northeastern Africa, and Somalia.

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

Heavy rain in southwestern Libya killed at least four people and displaced over 4,000 late last month. Entire neighborhoods in the city of Ghat were devastated, leading the country’s administration in Tripoli to declare Ghat a disaster zone and administer over seven million dollars in flood aid.

Flooding in Mali’s capital of Bamako following heavy overnight rain killed at least 15 people last month. Residents complained that garbage blocked drainage canals, worsening effects of the downpour.

Muslims in northern Mozambique spent Ramadan trying to recover from Cyclone Kenneth, which struck the country’s northern coast in April. Religious fasting was disrupted by food shortages, as people opportunistically took food, uncertain about their next meal. Damage to local mosques presented an obstacle to gathering for prayer.

A week of heavy rain in southern Tanzania caused flooding that killed at least five people and forced 2,500 to evacuate their homes last month.

The United Nations warned this month that recurring drought in southern Madagascar has left over 360,000 people on the brink of famine.

Rainfall shortages in eastern Africa, southern Africa, and the Horn of Africa are increasing food prices and aid needs of 45 million people across 14 countries. The Southern African Development Community region recorded the lowest rainfall in 38 years in this year’s cropping season. Along with cyclone damage, the drought is expected to threaten food supplies.

Pastoralist communities in Kenya are running low on places to go amid the multi-year drought in the country, increasing conflict between herders and private landowners.

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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