Most of Somalia continues to receive little or no rainfall, signaling an early end of the 2021 gu season
Following suppressed rainfall in May, field reports indicate that most of Somalia received little or no rainfall during the June 1-10 period. Preliminary CHIRPS remote sensing data corroborates the absence of rain across most of the country, apart from localized areas in the southern regions of Bay, Shabelle and Juba, which received 5-25 millimeters (mm) of rain (Figure 1). Compared to the long-term average (1981-2018), the dry period is indicative of average climatology; however, ground observations indicate drier-than-normal conditions (Figure 2). According to the most recent FAO SWALIM river station gauge data, water levels at key monitoring points along the Shabelle River are average to slightly above average, while river water levels along the Juba River are below average. Regardless, water levels at all monitoring points are significantly below the flood risk threshold due to recent poor rainfall over both Somalia’s riverine areas and the upstream river catchments in the Ethiopian highlands. The seven-day forecast ending June 20 signals further rainfall suppression across the country, eliminating the risk of flooding in the areas along the Juba and Shabelle rivers.
In the Northwest, field reports and remote sensing data confirm that there was little to no rainfall across most rural areas of Awdal, Woqooyi Galbeed, Sanaag, and Sool regions during the June 1-10 period, marking an extended period of atypical dryness from mid-May to early June. However, localized light showers with low impact on rangeland conditions were reported in Hawd Pastoral livelihood zone of Hargeisa; agropastoral areas of Woqooyi Galbeed; Togdheer Agropastoral and Hawd Pastoral livelihood zones in Burao district of Togdheer; and East Golis Pastoral livelihood zone in Ceerigabo district of Sanaag. Despite suppressed rainfall over the past 30 days, rangeland conditions remain favorable due to the substantial rains received in late April and early May. Thus, pasture and water availability are most likely adequate to sustain normal livestock body conditions and value through the end of the hagaa and karan seasons in September. Desert Locust hatching and band formation reported earlier in parts of Hawd Pastoral livelihood zone of Togdheer region continue to be present and may continue to damage grazing resources.
In the Northeast, no rainfall was reported across all livelihood zones of Bari, Nugaal, and northern Mudug regions during the June 1-10 period. In Bari region, the weather is characterized by strong winds and warm temperatures across all pastoral areas. Similar patterns of dryness and extreme temperatures are observed in the pastoral areas of Nugaal and northern Mudug regions. Overall, the Northeast has received the least amount of rainfall during the 2021 gu compared to other areas of the country. Coupled with extreme temperatures that have elevated the amount of evapotranspiration, pasture, and water resources are decreasing significantly. The most affected areas are the entire Coastal Deeh Pastoral and Fishing livelihood zone and large portions of Northern Inland Pastoral and Addun Pastoral livelihood zones.
In the central regions, little to no rainfall was reported across most pastoral and agropastoral livelihood zones of southern Mudug and Galgaduud regions during the June 1-10 period. Conditions during this period were even drier than late May, when at least localized areas received light showers. As a result, rangeland conditions continue to deteriorate in rainfall-deficit areas, especially in Coastal Deeh Pastoral and Fishing livelihood zone, parts of eastern Addun Pastoral livelihood zone, and most of Cowpea Agropastoral livelihood zone.
In the South, most livelihood zones in Hiiraan, Lower and Middle Shabelle, Middle Juba, Gedo, and Bay regions received little or no rainfall during the June 1-10 period. According to field reports, only very localized agropastoral and pastoral areas of Bay, Hiiraan, Lower Juba, and Lower and Middle Shabelle regions received light rainfall. As confirmed by CHIRPS satellite imagery, light rain in these areas ranged from 5 to 25 mm. Rain gauge stations in most monitoring areas recorded no rainfall; however, stations in Dinsoor (Bay), Jamaame (Lower Juba), and Qansahdhere (Bay) recorded 12.4 mm, 5.5 mm, and 3.4 mm of rainfall, respectively. Due to the long dry spell in most of the South between mid-May and early June, continued crop moisture stress is reported in most crop-producing areas, which is likely to result in a poor gu harvest. In addition, prolonged rainfall suppression is expected to result in the deterioration of rangeland conditions in many regions. In riverine areas, river water levels continue to recede significantly, affecting irrigation activities. Given a predicted absence of rainfall across the country and in the Ethiopian highlands through the end of June, the probability of river flooding is extremely low.
According to the satellite-derived eMODIS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) for the period of May 21-31, favorable vegetation conditions are present in most of the Northwest and in localized areas of central and southern Somalia, mainly due to rainfall that occurred earlier in the season. However, negative anomalies are widespread in the South and in the eastern part of central and northeastern Somalia, which reflects poor seasonal rainfall performance (Figure 3). The seven-day weather forecast from the NOAA Climate Prediction Center through June 20 indicates extended dry conditions across Somalia, which is indicative of the end of the *gu8 season. The end of season increases the likelihood of large gu crop losses in the South and atypical deterioration in pasture and water availability in southern, central, and northeastern Somalia (Figure 4). With a forecast of low rainfall in the Ethiopian highlands during the same period, further decline in the water levels of the Shabelle and Juba rivers is likely.