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IRI Climate Digest   August 2005

Climate Impacts - July

Contributions to this page were made by IRI researchers
M. Bell, Dr. A. Giannini, E. Grover-Kopec,
Dr. B. Lyon, C. Ropelewski, Dr. A. Seth

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Agriculture - Burkina Faso,Mali,Niger  Niger continues to feel the effects of last year's drought and locust infestation. While the country rarely grows enough food to feed its inhabitants, poor crop production during 2004 has caused food prices to skyrocket and supplies to dwindle. According to FEWSNet, there are "extreme food gaps" in many agro-pastoral and pastoral households. Approximately 3.6 million people in Niger are expected to go hungry before October's harvest. Lack of pasture and high fodder prices have contributed to the increasing number of animal deaths in the northern areas of Zinder, Tahoua, Maradi, and Diffa. Pasture is expected to improve in the next few months, however, due to recent rainfall in the area (May-July 2005 3-Month WASP Index Map). The government is approaching the situation with a combination of subsidized cereal sales, free food distribution, and food loans. The WFP is planning to distribute food to 2.5 million people in the next two months and recently tripled the amount of their aid appeal to USD 57.6 million. As of 3 August, approximately USD 30 million had been pledged toward the WFP appeal. (ReliefWeb Map, FEWSNet, IRIN, CNN, IRIN, IRIN)

In Mali, it is estimated that 1.5 million people are facing hunger, nearly 10% of whom are children who are already suffering from malnutrition. The farm output from the West African country last year was 42% less than that during 2003 due to the combined affects of drought and locusts. Only 15% of the USD 7.5 million appeal issued by the WFP had been received, according to an August 8 report from the Associated Press. OCHA has also indicated that 500,000 people in neighboring Burkina Faso are in need of food aid. (AP/CNN, BBC)

For more information about how this situation has developed, please see the reports from the following issues of the Climate Information Digest: Nov 2004, Dec 2004, Jan 2005, Mar 2005, Apr 2005, Jun 2005, Jul 2005. The latest IRI seasonal precipitation forecast for the end of the rainy season in West Africa (Sep-Nov 2005) indicates enhanced probabilities of above-normal rainfall for much of the West African Sahel.

Health - Ethiopia  The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has warned that Ethiopia may not be able to handle its current outbreak of malaria. Nearly 20,000 cases and 42 deaths were reported in June, approximately 10 and 4 times the number of cases reported during the same month in 2004 and 2003, respectively. The largest number of cases had been reported in the provinces of Afar, Amhara, Benshangul-Gumuz, Oromiya, Somali, and Tigray, and 77 administrative zones have reported transmission rates that are higher than usual. June marks the beginning of the peak malaria transmission season, which typically occurs between June-October, due in large part to climate conditions during these months. Malaria kills at least 100,000 people each year in Ethiopia, making it the country’s third most common cause of death.

The latest IRI seasonal precipitation forecast indicates a slightly-enhanced probability of below-normal precipitation for much of eastern Ethiopia for the upcoming September-November 2005 season.

Health - Guinea-Bissau  The cholera outbreak that began in Guinea-Bissau with this year’s rainy season in mid-June continued during July (CID July 2005). As of 8 August, approximately 5300 cases had been reported and 83 deaths had been blamed on the disease. The outbreak has remained concentrated in the capital city of Bissau; more than 75% of the cases and nearly half of the deaths have occurred there, according to health officials. Cases have, however, been reported in every region of the country, except for Bafata and Gabou in the east. Approximately 90% of Guinea-Bissau’s population gets its drinking water from wells that are commonly contaminated during the rainy season. Health officials are urging people to boil their drinking water and improve their personal hygiene habits to help control the epidemic. (IRIN, AFP)

The latest IRI seasonal precipitation forecast indicates a significantly-enhanced probability of above-normal rainfall for the upcoming September-November 2005 season.

Health - Sudan  FEWS Net has reported that households in sections of southern Sudan, particularly in the region of Bahr el Ghazal, began experiencing food shortages in March and April 2005 as the result of last year's poor harvests and low river levels, which have reduced the availability of fish and wild food sources (FEWS Net, Jul-Sep 2004 WASP Index Map). The region is currently in the midst of its "hunger season" before the main harvest in October, and there is concern that productivity of the upcoming harvest may be reduced due to the effects of the current food shortages on poor households in the region. About 6,000 people in southern Sudan are currently suffering from severe malnutrition, and WFP has indicated that only about 50 percent of the USD 302 million needed for food aid in the region has been received (IRIN).


Hazards - Bangladesh,India,Nepal  During the course of July heavy monsoon rains (July 2005 Precipitation Percentile Map) caused flooding in areas of northeastern India, including the states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, and in Bangladesh and Nepal. Flooding along the Bhamaputra River in the Indian state of Assam killed at least 15 people and inundated about 400 villages in the district of Dhemaji (FAO). Along the Ganges River in Uttar Pradesh, there have been 55 flood-related deaths (DFO), and an outbreak of encephalitis in the wake of the floods has killed 79 people (Reuters). Monsoon rains in July also caused flooding and erosion along the Saptakosi River in eastern Nepal which resulted in the loss of 200,000 sq. meters of agricultural land and forced dozens of families from their homes. Over 50 homes and farms in the western district of Banke were also destroyed by flooding. In Bangladesh, as many as 23 people were killed and over 1 million people displaced by floodwaters (DFO).

Hazards - China  According to the IFRC, flooding in China has affected 27 provinces and killed 910 people since the end of May. Another 218 people remain missing, 3 million people have been evacuated, and more than 134 million people have been affected by the flooding (IFRC, CID July 2005). Flooding during July occurred in the provinces of Anhui, Jilin, and Heilongjiang (July 2005 1-Month WASP Map). In Anhui, the flooding along the Huaihe River and its tributaries inundated 400,000 hectares of farmland and caused an estimated USD 45 million in damage. The northeastern provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang suffered USD 271 million in damage when the Songhua, Nen, and Wutong Rivers burst their banks. Nearly 1.3 million people were affected by the flood waters in Jilin, and the Wutong River recorded its highest level in 33 years (DFO). For a discussion on how recent precipitation anomalies have affected crop conditions in eastern China, please see the following report from the USDA (USDA).

The latest IRI seasonal precipitation forecast indicates a slightly-enhanced probability of below-normal precipitation for parts of southeastern China during September-November 2005.

Hazards - India  On 26 July, as much as 37 inches of rainfall fell in a single day in Mumbai (Daily Precipitation Time Series, CMORPH Estimated Precipitation), setting a new record in India for total rainfall in a 24-hour period, and causing flooding that killed about 1,000 people in western India, primarily in the state of Maharashtra. More than 20 million people in western India have reportedly been affected by the flooding, and damage estimates range up to $3.5 billion (BBC, New York Times, DFO, CNN). According to reports collected by the Dartmouth Flood Observatory, about 76,000 animals were killed in the flooding, and 700,000 hectares of land and 283,000 houses were damaged (DFO). Since the end of the flooding, water-borne diseases such as leptospirosis, gastroentiritis, cholera, jaundice, and also dengue fever have claimed the lives of 179 people and put 7,700 in the hospital (AFP). During the month of July and the early days of August, monsoon rains caused floods and landslides in the states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh as well. Areas along the Krishna River were inundated, and 109 people in the state of Karnataka were killed, 85,500 people were evacuated from their homes, and 83,000 hectares of crops were destroyed (DFO).

Water Resources - India,Pakistan  Northern Pakistan continued to feel the impact of flooding that occurred during June and July (CID July 2005). The WHO has issued a warning about the potential for an outbreak of water-borne diseases in North West Frontier Province (NWFP) because drinking water in flood-affected areas has become highly polluted. At least 14 people were killed by the flooding along the Kabul and Swat Rivers. Approximately 12,000 people were displaced and more than 1900 homes were destroyed as well. (IRIN)

During July, monsoon rainfall caused flooding along the Indus River in the provinces of Punjab and Sindh in Pakistan and the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, and Punjab in India. The Pakistani province of Punjab appears to have been worst hit as over 452,000 people in more than 1000 villages have been affected since early July. As of 26 July, at least 29 people and over 400 cattle had been killed, and nearly 1 million acres of crops had suffered heavy losses in Punjab. (OCHA, DFO)


Agriculture - Bulgaria,Romania  Southeastern Europe has been inundated with heavy rainfall since April and May, resulting in several rounds of damaging floods (May 2005 CID, June 2005 CID, July 2005 CID). Heavy rainfall in July (July 2005 1-Month WASP Index Map) once again caused damage to property, infrastructure, and agriculture in sections of Bulgaria and Romania. In Bulgaria, storms in the first few days of July produced flooding in several regions in the north and southeast which damaged roads, railways, and electrical and water supplies. Over 2200 houses were flooded and 42 were destroyed (IFRC). Rain continued to fall during July, and another episode of particularly heavy rainfall and flooding in Bulgaria in the first days of August caused 7 deaths and about USD 200 million in damage. About 10,000 to 12,000 people were forced from their homes. Previous to the flooding in August, floods in Bulgaria had killed 17 people and caused about USD 250 million in damage to agriculture, and to over 48,000 buildings, 70 bridges, and other infrastructure (Reuters, OCHA, IFRC). The greatest damage was caused in the regions of Targovishte, Veliko Tirnovo, Shoumen, Stara Zagora, Rousse, Haskovo, Bourgas, Vratza, and Lovetch.

In Romania, floods characterized as the worst in the last 50 years damaged as many as 16,000 houses, caused over 12,000 people to evacuate, and flooded between 94,000 and 210,000 hectares of crops (OCHA, OCHA, AFP). The greatest damage occurred in eastern Romania along the Siret and Trotus Rivers. As many as 23 people may have been killed, and damage has been estimated at USD 800 million (DFO).

The heavy and frequent rainfall in the Balkans since April is believed to have reduced the size and quality of the winter grain crop, delayed the winter grain harvest, and slowed the sowing of summer crops, according to the USDA (USDA). In July, the USDA estimated Balkan winter wheat production at 11.7 million metric tons, about 19 percent below last year's record crop.

Agriculture - Portugal,Spain  The effects of below-normal rainfall during the winter and currently higher-than-normal temperatures are contributing to wildfires and declines in agricultural production in Spain and Portugal. During July and the first days of August, thirteen firefighters were killed while battling wildfires in Spain. As of early August there had been seventeen large fires in Spain, each covering at least 500 hectares in extent (AFP). This year's drought (Nov 2004-Jul 2005 WASP Index Map) and high temperatures (May-Jul 2005 Temperature Anomaly) have also affected olive and winter grain production. According to a representative of the Spanish Cooperatives Federation, CCAE, the Spanish olive harvest, set to begin in November, will likely reach only 700,000 tons, compared to 981,000 tons the previous year (Reuters). According to the USDA, large losses are expected in the non-irrigated winter wheat and barley crops in Spain and Portugal due to the poor winter rainfall and moisture-depleting high temperatures this summer. On average, winter wheat production in Spain is 6.2 million tons, but production this year is estimated at only 3.7 million tons. In Portugal, average wheat production is 250,000 tons; this year, production is estimated at just over 100,000 tons (USDA).

North America

Agriculture - United States  Below-normal rainfall since March 2005 (Feb-Jul 2005 WASP Index Map) and warmer-than-average temperatures (July 2005 Station Temperature Anomaly) have reduced barge traffic on the Mississippi River system, affected corn and soybean crops in the U.S. Midwest, and caused heat-related deaths. According to the latest USDA crop production estimates, production of both corn and soybeans in the state of Illinois will likely be down at least 25 percent from last year's excellent crop, due to hot and dry conditions in recent months. For the U.S. as a whole, corn and soybean production is expected to drop 12 percent and 11 percent, respectively, from last year's record crop (USDA, AP, Below-normal rainfall this year is also being blamed for reduced barge traffic along the Mississippi River system. Fewer tugboats and barges are being allowed to navigate the system and have been increasingly running aground due to low river levels (DJCN, New York Times). High temperatures in much of the U.S. in mid- to late-July were blamed for at least 60 deaths and prompted record electrical power usage in New York (AFP).

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