04 Nov 2013 15:00pm
WINDHOEK, 04 NOV (NAMPA) - Most of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region is likely to experience either normal to above-normal rainfall, or above-normal to normal rainfall throughout February 2014.
The SADC Regions Food Security Early Warning System Agromet Update for the 2013/2014 agricultural season issued by the 17th Southern Africa Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF-17) on Friday indicated that the forecast generally suggests an increase in the probability of above-normal rains as the season progresses.
For some areas, particularly eastern Botswana, northern South Africa, southern Malawi, southern and central Mozambique, Swaziland, southern Zambia and Zimbabwe, the probabilities of normal to above-normal rainfall are consistent throughout the forecast period.
Some of these areas have experienced significant below-average rains over the last one to two seasons. As such, though forecasts are for normal to above-normal rains, these areas face an enhanced risk for poor seasonal performance, should the less likely outcome of below-normal rainfall materialise, it stated.
Poor rainfall performance could have a negative impact on peoples livelihoods in areas which depend mainly on crop agriculture and agro-pastoral activities. Water availability could also remain constrained as water levels are currently low in some of these areas.
However, it should be noted that the forecast does not address the timing of the rains, but only rainfall totals, summed-up over the three-months period from October to December.
In terms of the current conditions, most parts of the region are currently experiencing below-average vegetation conditions. As such, pastures are likely to be in poor condition, particularly in areas where low rainfall was received during the 2011/2012 and the 2012/2013 seasons.
Poor rains have affected several parts of the region in the last two seasons, especially those in the southern half of the region.
In addition, the below-average rainfall over the last two seasons also resulted in poor hydrological conditions in several countries, including south-east Botswana, north-western South Africa and southern Zimbabwe.
In Botswana, water restrictions and water rationing were implemented due to the low water levels in reservoirs.
In South Africas North-West Province, an official declaration of drought was made in September 2013, thereby enabling emergency relief to be provided.
In Zimbabwe, reports indicated that many reservoirs in the southern parts of the country are at very low levels.
Northern Namibia, southern Angola and Zambia also experienced droughts during the 2012/2013 season, with negative impacts - including crop failures and cattle deaths.
Normal to above-normal rainfall is required this season in most of these areas to offset the prevailing drought conditions, the forecast warned.