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East Africa: Regional Rain Watch (as of 3 May 2011)

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Rainfall deficits deepen in eastern and northern Kenya

The March to May rainfall seasonal performance continues to be close to average in most of the key cropping areas of Burundi, western Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda.

However, significant rainfall deficits of between 50 ‐150 mm persist across the agro‐pastoral areas of southeastern Kenya; the belg cropping areas of Ethiopia, including SNNPR, the northeastern highlands, and southern and eastern parts of Oromia; parts of southwestern Sudan; and the bimodal cropping areas of Uganda (Figure 1).

Some improvements in rainfall amounts have occurred in the last week of April in the agro‐pastoral areas of southern Somalia, parts of Somali region of Ethiopia, northwest Somalia, and along the coastal strip of Kenya. The improvements, however, are not sufficient to compensate for the significant deficits faced since the beginning of the season in March.

The rainfall forecast for the first week of May indicates increased rains around the Lake Victoria basin, along the coastal strip of Kenya and Tanzania, across most of central Somalia, in southern Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, and western and eastern Uganda. However, these sustained rains may result in flooding around the Lake Victoria region (Figure 2).
Little or no rainfall is forecast for the coming week in eastern and parts of northern Kenya, raising concerns of deepening rainfall deficits in these areas. On average, these areas receive over 80 percent of seasonal totals within the March to April period, and only 25 to 50 percent of normal rainfall has been received during the March 1 to May 1 period (Figure 4).

The improved rains across most of Somalia and Somali region of Ethiopia will most likely lead to regeneration of pastures and refilling of water pans, offering some relief to pastoral communities.