Somalia, already in a drought, faces a delayed and below-average 2021 deyr rainfall season
As predicted by multi-ensemble forecast models including IGAD’s Greater Horn Climate Outlook Forecast (GHACOF59), the October-December deyr rains have yet to be fully esablished in Somalia. As a result, current drought conditions are worsening. Although light to heavy rainfall was recorded in large parts of the northwest (Awdal, Togdheer, Sool, and Sanaag) and northeast (Bari) between mid-September and early October, the rest of the country received little or no rainfall through October 20th. Expections include localized areas of Hiiraan, Bay, Bakool, and the Shabelle regions, where light to moderate precipitation was reported during the October 11-20 period. Preliminary CHIRPS remote-sensing data confirms the delayed onset of the season, as most of the country received only up to 10 millimeters (mm) of rainfall during the October 11-20 period, apart from a few scattered pockets that recorded up to 25 mm of rainfall (Figure 1). Compared to the long-term average (1981-2018), large parts of the northeast and all central and southern areas have a rainfall deficit amounting to 25-100 mm, with the largest deficit recorded in key crop producing areas of southern somalia (Figure 2). According to the most recent FAO SWALIM river station gauge data, river water levels at station monitoring points along the Shabelle River are average or slightly above average, while the Juba River is mostly at below average levels. Most points also show that river levels are currently far below the moderate flood risk threshold.
In the northwest, the deyr rains are not yet fully established in most pastoral and agropastoral livelihood zones. Although moderate to light rains were reported in pastoral and agropastoral areas of Awdal, Woqooyi Galbeed, Togdheer, Sanaag, and Sool regions between late September and early October, little to no rainfall was reported in the October 11-20 period across all the livelihood zones. Rangeland conditions vary across the all livelihood zones due to mixed rainfall performance during the April-June 2021 gu rainy season and the July-September 2021 karan rainy season. Currently, access to pasture and water are average to below average in most pastoral livelihood zones of Togdheer, Sanaag, and Sool regions while average to above average in livelihood zones of Awdal and Woqooyi Galbeed regions. Bands of adult locust were reported in localized areas of Hawd Pastoral and West Golis Pastoral livelihood zones of Togdheer, though the impact is reportedly minimal.
In the northeast, the deyr rains have reportedly started in the pastoral livelihood zones of Bari, but the season is yet to start in pastoral areas of Nugaal and Mudug regions or along the coast. In Bari, localized light to moderate rains fell in Northern Inland Pastoral (NIP) and East Golis Pastoral livelihood zones between late September and October 20th . During this period, pastoral areas of Dhuudo and Dharoor of NIP zone also received localized flooding that benefited local rangelands. However, little to no rainfall was reported in Coastal Deeh Pastoral zone of Bari, and no rainfall was reported in Nugaal or Mudug. Currently, pasture and water availability are below average in pastoral areas of Bari while poor to below average in coastal areas of Bari and in all pastoral areas of Nugaal and Mudug regions.
In the central regions, the deyr rains are delayed as no precipitation has been reported in all pastoral areas of Galgaduud and Mudug regions. Field reports indicated that only one day of light to moderate rains fell in pockets of Hawd of Dhusamareeb and Guricel, coastal areas of Xarardhere and cowpea agropastoral areas of Ceel Dheer. Central Somalia is currently experiencing an extreme drought, and the availability of pasture and water is extremely below average. As a result, livestock body conditions and productivity are exceptionally low. There are reports of localized, atypical livestock mortalities in parts of Addun and Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zones due to hunger.
In the south, the deyr rains, which typically start in mid-October, are delayed in most areas although localized light to moderate rains were reported in some parts of the south during the October 11-20 period. Field reports indicate that localized light to moderate rains fell in some parts of Southern Inland Pastoral, Southern Agropastoral, and riverine livelihood zones of Hiiraan; Sorghum Agropastoral and Southern Inland Pastoral livelihood zones and riverine areas of Middle Shabelle; and agropastoral livelihood zones of Bay and Bakool regions. The rest of the south, including most livelihood zones of Lower and Middle Juba and Gedo, received little to no rainfall throughout October. Rain gauge stations recorded 43.5 mm in Baidoa, 48.7 mm in Qansahdhere (Bay), 41.5 mm in Hudur (Bakool), 38 mm in Buloburte (Hiraan), and 2.5 mm in Beledweyne (Hiiraan). No precipitations were recorded in Sakow (Middle Juba), Afgoye (Lower Shabelle), and Jamame (Lower Juba). No flooding has been reported in riverine areas except a few localized breakages in parts of Jowhar (Middle Shabelle). As a result of the below-average April-June gu rains followed by below-average xagaa rains and delay of the October deyr rains, pasture and water availability in most pastoral and agropastoral areas is significantly below average. As a result, livestock body conditions and productivity are very low across livestock species, and there are reports of extremely weak body conditions and atypical deaths among cattle, especially in parts of Gedo and Juba regions.
According to the satellite-derived eMODIS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) for the period of October 11-20, vegetation conditions across southern, central, and large parts of northeastern regions are significantly below average. This is attributable to the impact of three seasons of below average sesaonal rainfall on rangelands (Figure 3). Conditions are relatively better in the other parts of the north where vegetation conditions are average to above average, due to relatively better precipitations during the July-September karan and localized moderate rainfall during September and early October. The seven-day weather forecast from the NOAA Climate Prediction Center through October 31 indicates a likelihood of moderate to heavy precipitation in parts of south-central Somalia, especially in large parts of Hiiraan, Bay, Bakool, and Lower Shabelle as well as localized areas of Galgaduud and Mudug regions (Figure 4). Little to no rainfall is likely in the rest of the country. With the forecast of low to moderate rainfall in the Ethiopian highlands during the same period, it is unlikely that the levels of the Shabelle and Juba rivers pose a significant flood risk.