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Southern Africa expected to receive erratic rainfall during 2018/19 agricultural season

Southern Africa expected to receive erratic rainfall during 2018/19 agricultural season

Southern Africa is expected to receive erratic rainfall in the 2018/19 agricultural season, according to the latest outlook produced by regional climate experts.

The consensus forecast produced by the 22nd Southern African Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF) held in Lusaka, Zambia, from 22 to 24 August, shows that most of the 16 Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries are likely to receive normal to below-normal rainfall for the period October 2018 to March 2019.

The areas forecast to get adequate rainfall in that period are Angola, the northern tip of Botswana, the Comoros, south-eastern DRC, northern Malawi, Madagascar, Mauritius, north-eastern Mozambique, northern Namibia, Seychelles, southern Tanzania, and the western and northern regions of Zambia.

Moreover, climate experts forecast an early onset of the 2018/19 season, a false start, which could be followed by prolonged dry spells that disturb the timing and spatial distribution of rainfall around the region. While developing this outlook, the climate scientists took into account oceanic and atmospheric factors that influence climate over southern Africa.

In particular, the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is forecast as likely to shift from neutral to the warm phase referred to as El Niño during the forthcoming season.

The region should, therefore, brace for erratic rains or even drought conditions over large portions of southern Africa, except for Tanzania and other areas predicted to have higher rainfall only in the second half-season.

The associated agricultural risks include limited water availability, poor grazing and heat stress that could affect both crops and livestock.

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