The end of March typically marks the cessation of dry weather conditions (Jilaal) and in some areas such as northwest and parts of southern Somalia regions marks the early onset of the Gu (April-June) rains. In the Northwest, unusual Gu light rains started as early as in the first dekad of March and were further enhanced in the third dekad. However in the south of Somalia the early rains were reported only in the third dekad of March. Some of the stations that recorded significant rains in March include: Baligubadle (40mm), Sheikh (55mm), Qulenjeed (27mm) Hudur (43mm), Baidoa (95mm), Dinsor (85mm), Burhakaba (26mm) and Bardheere (43mm) (Map 1 and Table1). Favorable rains in the Ethiopian highland catchment areas has led to moderate increase of river water levels in Juba and Shabelle.
Satellite derived Rainfall estimates also confirmed the start of the 2018 Gu rainfall season in March. Satellite data indicates that large areas in southern regions of Juba and pocket areas in Bay and Bakool Low potential Agropastoral livelihood zones received enhanced rainfall. Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) which measures vegetation cover shows sustained decrease in biomass in small to large areas across the country (Map 6-8 and 10). Pasture and vegetation improvement is expected in April as a result of early Gu rains received in March.
The unusual early March rains that covered most parts of southern regions in the country have encouraged many farmers to start early planting of crops. Main agricultural activities include land preparation, dry planting and rainwater harvest in agriculture-dependent rural areas of the country. The continued rise of the Shabelle and Juba rivers in March and April will enhance opportunities for crop cultivation, especially in riverine area of Hiraan, Middle Shabelle and upper parts of Lower Shabelle including Afgoye and Marka. Opportunistic livestock migration to areas where pasture is better was observed in the areas that received early rains in March.