A new seasonal forecast for the drought-stricken Horn of Africa shows that many parts of the region can expect a good rainy season.
The forecast from the World Meteorological Organization is good news for millions of people suffering from acute hunger due to crop failures caused by several years of drought.
However, WMO spokeswoman Clare Nullis said the good news comes with warnings that people should always prepare for what she called the worst-case scenario.
“The rainy season from March to May is really, really important for many countries in the region,” she said. “In the region, it represents about 70% of the total annual precipitation. So obviously if there were to be another failure of the rains, there would be massive socio-economic consequences.
The World Food Program says 12 to 14 million people in three of the worst affected countries – Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia – are facing severe starvation due to devastating drought in the Horn of Africa.
The WMO says the southern to central parts of the region have the greatest chance of receiving more rain than normal at this time of year. The countries include Tanzania, eastern Uganda, northern Burundi and eastern Rwanda.
However, it says western South Sudan and central and northeastern Ethiopia are expected to receive less rain than usual.
Given the below-average rainfall for the past three seasons, meteorologists say a wetter-than-normal season does not mean the region will recover immediately from the drought.
Nullis said countries in the eastern part of the Horn should prepare for the worst.
“In the most drought-affected regions, current trends are comparable to those seen during the 2010-2011 famine and the 2016-2017 drought emergency,” she said. “There is obviously a delay between planting and harvesting. The next harvest won’t start until around August, so we’re not going to see any immediate positive impacts. »
More than a quarter of a million people died in the Somali famine between 2010 and 2012, more than half of them children. More than 6 million people, half of Somalia’s population, were devastated by the severe drought of 2017. However, few people died as the international community responded quickly to the acute food emergency.