Alert

A fourth consecutive season of below-average rainfall expected over the Horn of Africa

September 29, 2017

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
National Parks/Reserves
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.IPC phase classifications for concentrations of displaced people are included in Somalia, Sudan and Uganda country maps.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Summary

Given recent forecast model outputs and an increased likelihood of a La Niña developing in the coming months, FEWS NET science partners at NOAA and USGS anticipate below-average rainfall in the eastern Horn of Africa during the upcoming October to December 2017 Deyr season. Should this occur, it would mark the fourth consecutive season of below-average rainfall for many areas of the sub-region. Although uncertainty exists for all seasonal precipitation forecasts, early contingency planning and close monitoring of seasonal performance are essential given the already high levels of acute food insecurity, especially in Ethiopia and Somalia.

Situation

The early-September IRI/CPC ENSO forecast suggests an increased likelihood of La Niña between October 2017 and February 2018. La Niña events are typically associated with below-average rainfall totals in the Horn of Africa between October and December. In addition, various forecast models, including many that make up the North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME), now suggest below-average rainfall during October, the month during which nearly half of Deyr season rainfall typically occurs. An analysis of historical rainfall data indicates that the likelihood of significantly below-average seasonal rainfall more than doubles when October rainfall is poor (Figure 1). The increased likelihood for below-average October to December 2017 rainfall is a shift from long-range forecasts released in early 2017, which indicated an increased likelihood of above-average October to December rainfall over the Horn of Africa.

Many areas of the eastern Horn of Africa have experienced poor to very poor rainfall performance over the past three consecutive rainy seasons, beginning with the March to May 2016 Gu season. This has already contributed to large food assistance needs in the region and extreme levels of acute food insecurity in Somalia and Ethiopia. Another season of poor rainfall performance in the eastern Horn of Africa will limit pasture regeneration and water availability, reduce rainfed crop harvests, and exacerbate already high levels of acute food insecurity. An analysis of agricultural production data in Somalia shows that the frequency of poor agricultural production (i.e., cereal harvests <70% of average) rose from 27 percent during the 1995-2016 period to 67 percent in years when the season started poorly. A risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) persists in the sub-region given the extended drought, heavy livestock losses, disease outbreaks, and persistent challenges with provision of life-saving humanitarian assistance, without which outcomes would likely be worse.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on some 34 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, and USGS, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica. Read more about our work.