Afghanistan: El Niño Outlook for 2019 (as of 20 Jan 2019)

from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 20 Jan 2019 View Original

What is an El Niño event?

El Niño is a warming of surface ocean waters in the eastern tropical Pacific. El Niño events tend to happen every three to seven years and can last from six months to two years. El Niño events can have profound effects on weather patterns around the world, impacting on different regions in different ways.

El Niño impacts in Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, El Niño events typically bring above-normal snowfall/rainfall, especially in the country’s north and northeast, as well as warmer temperatures across the country. With the vast-majority of the country currently affected by drought, additional rainfall may contribute to replenishing depleted water supplies and support drought-recovery. The winter wet season started earlier than normal in 2018, increasing the potential for snow water storage, which may provide an important source of water for irrigated crops and pasture recovery in the spring and summer of 2019. It won’t be clear until the second quarter of 2019 whether this has translated into conducive planting conditions depending on; a) whether the water has actually been harvested into irrigation reserves or has immediately run-off straightaway into deforested land/barren soil;

b) whether families either had the resources or received assistance in time to plant; and c) whether the harvest is sufficient to provide enough for their food and/or economic security through the next winter.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit