Africa: Water deficits will shrink & downgrade

17 September 2019

The 12-month forecast through May 2020 indicates intense water deficits across much of northern Africa and along the Red Sea. Deficits will be exceptional and widespread in Mauritania, Algeria, eastern Libya, Egypt, Eritrea, Djibouti, and the Ethiopian Highlands.

Deficits of varying intensity are forecast for southern Africa, including large pockets of exceptional deficit in southwestern Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. On the Gulf of Guinea, moderate to exceptional deficits are expected in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Congo.

Widespread surpluses are forecast in East Africa including Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and northern Mozambique, and along the White Nile in South Sudan. Surpluses are expected to reach extreme intensity in central Tanzania. Surpluses are also forecast in pockets across the Sahel and scattered through a few nations on the northern shore of the Gulf of Guinea.

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

The forecast through November indicates that deficits in Africa will shrink and downgrade considerably, particularly in the south, where merely mild deficits are expected with a few isolated patches of more intense anomalies. Moderate deficits are forecast across the north with some extensive pockets of severe to exceptional deficit in eastern Libya and northern Sudan. Deficits along the southwest bank of the Red Sea will shrink somewhat but intense pockets will persist. Deficits in the Horn will nearly disappear with some moderate to severe anomalies lingering in northern Ethiopia.

In East Africa, surpluses in Tanzania will downgrade slightly from exceptional anomalies observed in prior months but will be extreme in the west and moderate to severe in much of the rest of the nation. Primarily moderate surpluses will emerge in greater extent in the surrounding regions, including northern Mozambique, Kenya, Uganda, along the Lukuga River from Lake Tanganyika into Democratic Republic of the Congo, and along the White Nile through South Sudan. Surpluses are also forecast in pockets across the Sahel and scattered around the Gulf of Guinea from Guinea through Gabon, transitioning in Gulf nations from prior deficits that will nearly disappear.

From December 2019 through February 2020, deficits will continue to shrink and downgrade, leaving nearly normal conditions in many parts of Africa. Intense deficits will, however, emerge from eastern Ethiopia into Somalia. Pockets of intense deficit are also forecast for Western Sahara, Mauritania, Sierra Leone, coastal Togo, northern Benin, northern Sudan, southwestern Egypt, and Northern Cape, South Africa. Moderate to severe deficits are expected in eastern South Africa, Lesotho, eastern Zimbabwe, and the Ethiopian Highlands. Moderate to extreme surpluses are forecast for Tanzania, northern Mozambique and Malawi, Kenya, Burundi, Uganda, and along the full length of the White Nile from Khartoum, Sudan. Pockets of surplus are also forecast in the western Sahel, northwest Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana west of Lake Volta, and coastal Nigeria.

During the final quarter – March through May 2020 – large pockets of intense deficit will emerge across northern Africa, particularly in Egypt, Sudan, and Libya. Widespread surpluses will persist in Tanzania and its northern neighbors.

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

At least eleven people were killed when a flood swept away their bus in eastern Morocco this month in a string of heavy rain events in the country, one of which killed seven people at a football match in rural Taroudant weeks earlier.

As of late August, floods killed 62 people in Sudan and injured another 98 since heavy rains began in early July across 15 states.

Heavy rains in northeastern Nigeria caused flooding that affected over 3,000 people this month.

Over 30,000 cattle were recorded to suffer drought-related deaths during this year’s rainy season in Namibia. Rains were reportedly delayed and erratic, reducing planted areas and contributing to poor crop quality, and poor grazing conditions. National drought emergencies were declared in Namibia, Angola, and Botswana. The Meat Board of Namibia announced that 56 percent more cattle have been slaughtered and 11 percent more have been put on the market this year, compared to the same period last year.

The Kenyan National Drought Management Authority said that more than 2.5 million Kenyans are facing starvation as drought and food insecurity in the country persists.

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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