IRI Climate Digest
Climate Impacts - October
Contributions to this page were made by IRI researchers
Dr. M. Barlow,
Dr. M. Hopp,
Dr. T. Kestin,
Dr. B. Lyon,
Dr. A. Seth,
Dr. L. Zubair
Africa - Mauritania
In spite of the arrival of rainfall late in September and early October, its late timing, and the general lack of rainfall throughout the season meant that it would do little to ease the food security situation in the country. In the affected southern regions of Hodh el Gharbi, Assaba, and Guidimakha, WFP estimates that no more than 25% of last year's cultivated area was cultivated this year. The impact of the summer rainy season drought has been compounded by the effects of an unusually strong cold front and associated rainfall in January 2002 that killed large numbers of livestock. WFP reports that it has teamed up with UNICEF to open more community feeding centers to help feed malnourished children and pregnant or nursing mothers (WFP). The agency says that up to 1.5 million people in the region have been affected by the drought (WFP). As many as 250,000 Mauritanians are currently relying upon food aid from WFP, and at least 700,000 are food insecure (IRIN). (World Vision)
Africa - Madagascar
The WFP reported that nearly 200,000 people in southern Madagascar are facing serious food shortages. While severe drought is largely to blame, the recent political crisis has also played an important role. Toliary, the southernmost province, is prone to drought, but the current effects are worse than normal because the area has not recovered from previous droughts.
Africa - Ethiopia and Eritrea
WFP reports that due to the poor rainfall in the highlands, and the late onset of rainfall in the lowlands of Bale, in the Oromiya Region of Ethiopia, crops in the highlands were failing, and water shortages in the lowlands were forcing people to migrate out. WFP also mentions a shortage of good pasture due to the extended drought conditions and fears of damage being done to Bale National Park by the migration of people from other regions of the country. According to WFP, the late onset and early end of the rains in the Tigray region and eastern Amhara means that crops will do poorly there as well. The greatest food security problems in the country are in the Oromiya region, Afar region, the Shinile area of the Somali region, and parts of the Amhara region. In East Hararghe, in Oromiya, WFP estimates that as much as 60 to 70% of sorghum and other crops in the highlands and midlands, and as much as 95 to 100% of these crops in the lowlands will fail. The poor short rains earlier in the year (February-May) also meant that there were already food shortages in rural areas by August and September. It has also been reported (IRIN) that the drought conditions may be exacerbating ethnic territorial conflict in the region. Twenty women, ethnic Afars, were shot and killed in late October, and
11 ethnic Ittus were killed on 5 November in Oromiya.
The situation is grave in Eritrea as well, where 2 million people have been
affected by the drought. Crop production for 2003 is predicted to be
only 84% of the target of 452,000 tons. Throughout the Horn of Africa, between 12 and 14 million people are threatened with starvation over the
next several months.
(WFP, WFP, WFP, New York Times, IRIN,
The longer rainy season ends in December in much of Ethiopia with the short season expected March through May of next year. Associated with the on-going El Niņo , the forecast through February shows an increased probablity of wetter than average conditions. Eritrea could see some relief
as the rains there continue through the winter months.
Africa - Southern Africa
WFP reported in mid-October that it has received about half of the funding necessary to carry out its emergency feeding operations in southern Africa. About US$256 million are still needed. It reports the food security situation in Zimbabwe is still "critical" in most areas. There are stories of people eating wild poisonous fruits and grasses in some districts of the country. Additionally, WFP and FAO have urged the international community to act quickly to supply seeds, fertilizers, and agricultural implements to farmers in southern Africa who were lacking them as late as September -- planting in many parts of southern Africa begins in October. 70% of households in Zambia and Malawi, and more than 94% of farmers in Zimbabwe were found to lack the necessary agricultural inputs. The organizations stressed that a plentiful harvest next year would help to ease the current drought-induced food crisis, but that such an outcome will not be possible if farmers do not soon receive the necessary resources.
(WFP, FAO & WFP)
Forecasts for the developing rainy season in southern Africa indicate increased likelihood for dry conditions in much of the region, associated with the ongoing El Niņo.
Asia - India
Drought-induced agricultural losses and a lack of water have been prompting some people from the state of Rajasthan to migrate to cities according to a BBC report. Several NGOs operating in the region, including "Save the Children" claim that the drought has led to food scarcity in spite of food distribution efforts by the government. Reports of hunger-related deaths have been denied by state government officials.
Central America - Central America
Drought conditions have continued in Central America. This area, labeled as a "drought corridor" by
the WFP, is home to 8.6 million people and has experienced severe drought for nearly two years. The
effects of the drought are worst in Guatemala where the WFP extended its emergency operations for
six months in September. Honduras has benefited from a similar program which began in early
October, and the WFP is preparing another program for El Salvador. The food shortages caused by the
drought have been far-reaching in the population of the four Central American countries; chronic
malnutrition affects 23 percent of the population in El Salvador, 33 percent in Nicaragua, 38 percent in
Honduras and 48 percent in Guatemala, according to the WFP. The WFP currently assists 1.575
million people in Central America. In addition, the WFP's Executive Board recently approved a new
USD 66 million relief operation in Central America to serve an additional 690,000 people who have
become food insecure as a result of the recent droughts and the coffee crisis. If fully funded, the new
three-year WFP relief operation will assist 240,000 people in Honduras; 200,000 in Guatemala;
150,000 in Nicaragua and 100,000 in El Salvador beginning in March 2003. The continuing drought is
one factor among several, including chronic poverty and job losses, contributing to the food security
problem. Citing World Bank figures, the article noted that about 600,000 jobs over three years have
been lost as a result of the historically low coffee prices world-wide.
(CSM, Reuters, WFP)
The forecast through February indicates the potential for drier than average conditions in much of Central America, which would exacerbate the current situation.
South America - Colombia
Rescuers have struggled to reach the remote northern Colombia area near the town of Montecristo after three days of landslides (28-30 October) hit the area. Six people were killed and 60 reported missing in the landslides that were triggered by weeks of heavy rain.
Africa - Zimbabwe
Cholera cases continue to increase due to the prolonged drought in the Southern African region, forcing people to drink polluted ground water. In the past month, 500 cases and 24 deaths have been reported in Zimbabwe's Masvingo province.
Sources: IFRC, IRIN
Asia - India
In Mumbai, 66 cases of dengue with 4 deaths have been reported this year. The intense September and October heat has contributed to the outbreak of this mosquito-borne disease. In Manimajra, 127 suspected dengue cases have been reported. Recent rainfall in the region has prompted special teams to treat all potential mosquito-breeding sites, such as tires and discarded containers. Sources: ProMED, ProMED
South America - Paraguay
Infectious diseases are on the increase in western Paraguay as a result of the continuing two-year long drought. So far 17 people have died from diseases related to drinking contaminated water. The drought has also had a significant impact on subsistence agriculture in the region. A National State of Emergency was declared on 2 October. Sources: IFRC, IFRC
South America - Brazil
Recent hot weather in Minas Gerais is being blamed for a significant increase in cases of diarrhea and vomiting. The hot weather is causing more people to visit public swimming pools and to increase consumption of water and other beverages, without being careful of their safety, which may be causing these gastrointestinal symptoms. Source: ProMED-Port
Africa - Sudan
Poor harvests are expected in most areas of the country, but particularly in
southern Sudan, where erratic rainfall in July-August is blamed for low sorghum yields. The most significantly affected areas are in the Upper Nile region, including the areas of Pibor, Budi, Pochalla, and Shilluk. Other areas expected to have poor harvests include Aweil West, Bieh, and Torit. Although unreliable rainfall is partly to blame, the problem is also in part the result of conflict in the region. For 2003, WFP is appealing for 93,278 tons of food for 1,390,000 people.
Africa - South Africa
Below-normal rainfall in October has led to soil moisture deficits in the
maize-growing regions of South Africa. According to a 4 November USDA report, a
large amount of rainfall will be required in November to raise soil moisture
values enough to help ensure the successful establishment of the summer maize crop. South Africa has been a significant source of maize for the
other countries in southern Africa enduring the current drought-induced food
Australia - Australia
Drought conditions have continued to affect agriculture, the economy, and the
fire season in Australia. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology announced
that the area of the country experiencing severe rainfall deficiencies has
expanded as a result of a very dry October. Nearly half of Australia recorded
October precipitation within the lowest 10% of records. Large areas in New
South Wales, parts of the Upper North and Northeast districts in South
Australia, and scattered patches through southern and central Queensland
recorded their driest October on record. The Australian Bureau of
Agricultural and Resource Economics, in a report on the drought released two
months ahead of schedule, stated that production of the country's four main
winter crops, wheat, barley, canola, and lupins will reach only half of last
year's record production of 34.1 million metric tons. The economic impact of
this drop in production will be a reduction of economic growth of 0.7% (AP).
The summer bushfire season got an early start due to the extended drought.
Australian bushland is dominated by eucalyptus trees and other oily trees
which catch fire easily in dry weather and burn with great intensity. Making
matters worse, many areas have not seen rain for more than six months. New
South Wales, where 93 percent of the area is currently experiencing drought,
was hit particularly hard. As of November 9th, there were 100 fires burning
in New South Wales, 35 of which were out of control, and over 1 million acres
have already burned.
The drought has affected water usage as well. With the city's reservoir about
half full due to the drought, Melbourne residents have been banned from
watering their gardens or using a hose to wash their cars. Although other
towns in Victoria have already had water restrictions in place, this is
reportedly the first time in 20 years that water restrictions have been
imposed in Melbourne (AP).
(CNN, CNN, AgWeb, AgWeb, AP, AP, BBC)
North America - United States
Drought conditions have continued for much of the United States, primarily the East Coast, areas of the Midwest, and most of the western half of the country. The USDA designated counties in 18 states (i.e., Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wyoming) as agricultural disaster areas during the month of October.
(AgWeb, AgWeb, AgWeb, AgWeb)
North America - United States
Dry weather in the Northwest cut output at the largest U.S. hydroelectric dam by 15 percent in early October. The situation was complicated by its
coincidence with the salmon spawning season. Many dam operators on the
Columbia River in Washington reduced output during the daytime hours to help
salmon breed in the abnormally low rivers.