East Africa Seasonal Monitor: January 04, 2019
• At the conclusion of the Deyr/short rains season, there remain large areas of drier-than-normal conditions across Somalia, in parts of eastern and southern Ethiopia, in eastern Kenya, and along the Kenya-Uganda border. However, December rainfall alleviated cumulative deficits in parts of the eastern Horn, bringing short-term but significant relief to pasture and water resources.
• Late seasonal rainfall in December resulted in better cropping conditions during the final weeks of the growing season in much of Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi, as well as western, central, and eastern Kenya and parts of northern Tanzania.
• The short-term rainfall outlook through mid-January is indicative of dry conditions across most of East Africa, aside from moderate to locally very heavy rains in Tanzania and Burundi. With little or no rainfall expected across the rest of the region, this marks the southward shift of the seasonal rains toward southern Africa.
Total cumulative rainfall in December was generally above average to average in most of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi, with surplus amounts of 25 to 100 mm. However, parts of Marsabit in Kenya, Borena in southern Ethiopia, and the coastal strip of southern Somalia recorded slight rainfall deficits, ranging from -25 to -50 mm below average. December marks the end of the October to December Deyr/short rains season across much of equatorial East Africa, though the rains are likely to subside in January in some areas. The increase in late seasonal rainfall is expected to provide short-term relief for parts of the eastern Horn that accumulated substantial rainfall deficits earlier in the season.
At the conclusion of the season, total Deyr/short rains seasonal performance from October to December was less than 75 percent of average across most of Somalia, eastern Kenya, and parts of eastern and southern Ethiopia, as well as localized areas in southeastern South Sudan and northwestern areas of Bahr Ghazal region, along the Kenya-Uganda border, and in northeastern Tanzania (Figure 1). Rainfall throughout the season was also often characterized by erratic distribution. The areas worst-affected by rainfall deficits (shaded in red) include central Somalia and Somalia’s Bay and Lower Shabelle regions, which received less than 50 percent of average total seasonal rainfall. Although Sudan does not typically receive seasonal rainfall during this period, it is noteworthy that parts of western and central Darfur regions in Sudan also had significantly below average rainfall performance.
Current vegetation condition anomalies compared to the short-term average indicate gradual improvement in vegetation conditions as a result of the December rainfall in parts of the eastern Horn, according to the eMODIS/Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) (Figure 2). However, there are localized areas of persistent drier-than-normal vegetation conditions in parts of Garissa, Marsabit, and Isiolo counties in Kenya, southern and central Somalia, and Afder, Warder, and Borena regions in Ethiopia. Similarly, much of South Sudan, Karamoja region in Uganda, and western Turkana county in Kenya also continue to experience significantly drier-than-normal vegetation conditions due to cumulative below-average rainfall, worsened by hotter-than-normal land surface temperatures that are more than 2°C above average. In Tanzania, the recent establishment of the Msimu November to January seasonal rains have led to gradual improvement in rangeland resources and cropping conditions. However, there still localized areas of drier-than-normal vegetation conditions in Manyara and Dodoma regions in central Tanzania.
Maize production for the September to December season is expected to be below average to failed in southern Somalia. In Kenya, near average maize yields are likely in the high and medium potential western, central, and eastern highlands of Kenya, while marginal agricultural areas in the southeastern lowlands are expected to be below average. Across most of the western sector of East Africa, maize production is expected to be average, but there is an increased likelihood of slight production shortfalls in parts of eastern Burundi, northern Rwanda, and southwestern and eastern Uganda.