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IRI Climate Digest   December 2004

Climate Impacts - November

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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Africa - Somalia  Flooding along the Juba and Shabelle Rivers in southern Somalia, which began after above-normal rainfall in October, continued to affect the region through most of November (Oct 2004 CID Report). The deyr rains, which typically occur during September-December in southern Somalia, have been particularly heavy this year. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) Food Security Assessment Unit (FSAU), precipitation in some areas was 160-300 percent above normal (Oct-Nov 2004 precipitation percentile animation). Thousands of hectares of farmland have been inundated by the rains in the Middle Juba region. (IRIN) Flooding in the Middle Shabelle Region rendered most roads impassable, which greatly hindered WFP relief operations in the region where thousands are in need of food aid. Approximately 2000 families are need of immediate aid in the most affected villages along the Shabelle River. (WFP, FEWS Net)

Africa - Uganda  Heavy rainfall (Nov 2004 precipitation anomaly) and flooding affected several villages around the northwestern Ugandan town of Packwach and forced about 10,000 people out of their homes. Infrastructure in the region, including roads and latrines were damaged (Xinhua). The heavy rainfall has reportedly also hampered efforts to contain a cholera outbreak in the Pabbo internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in the district of Gulu. As many as 56 people in the 67,000 person camp have been infected and three have died (IRIN).

The latest IRI seasonal precipitation forecast for Uganda indicates a slightly enhanced probability of above-normal precipitation for the January-March season.

Asia - Philippines  Tropical cyclones, which usually affect the Philippines between July and October, caused large amounts of damage and fatalities during November and early December. Four storms struck the country in just a few weeks, including typhoon Muifa (Nov 18), tropical storm Merbok (Nov 23), tropical storm Winnie (Nov 29), and typhoon Nanmadol (Dec 2). According to the National Disaster Coordination Council (NDCC), the storms caused 1060 deaths and the displacement of 880,000 people. Most of the deaths were caused by flash floods and landslides sparked by T.S. Winnie. Approximately 38,000 houses were destroyed and economic damages to crops, livestock and fisheries reached US$ 52 million. Damage to basic infrastructure, schools, and health facilities has been estimated at US$ 26.2 million. The recent tropical activity has helped to ease strained water resources on the island of Luzon by filling reservoirs, though it also damaged water management infrastructure. The most affected areas are in the provinces of Quezon, Aurora, and Nueva Ecija in central Luzon. Reports have indicated that the severity of the disaster may be partially due to deforestation of uplands. (OCHA, AFP, USAID)

Most of the heavy precipitation fell in the northern Philippines (Nov 2004 WASP Index), which has been quite dry in recent months (Sep-Nov 2004 WASP Index). These abnormally dry conditions may be associated with the current weak El Niņo event. The latest IRI forecast for January-March 2005 indicates an enhanced probability of below-normal precipitation in the Philippines.

Water Resources

Asia - China  Drought conditions (12-Month WASP Index map) in the Guangdong province of southern China have damaged large areas of farmland and forced the provincial government to reduce Dongjiang River water allocations to many cities by ten percent (China Daily). According to one estimate, about 3.6 million acres (1.46 million ha) of farmland in southern China have been damaged by the dry weather, and as of the end of November, about 930,000 hectares of farmland in Guangdong itself had been seriously affected (Xinhua, China Daily). The Dongjiang River, which is the source of 80 percent of Hong Kong's water supply and provides drinking water to as many as 36 million people, is flowing at only 20 percent of the level it had at the same time last year (The Standard). Although water allocations from the river have been reduced to other cities in eastern Guangdong province, Hong Kong continues to receive its normal share. Low river levels have allowed salt water to flow inland in the Pearl River Delta and led to sewage problems and complaints about salty drinking water in Dongguan (The Standard). The dry conditions have also caused problems in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Hainan Province (China Daily).

The latest IRI forecast for January-March 2005 indicates a slightly enhanced probability of above-normal precipitation in southeastern China.


Africa - Africa,Africa: West,Burkina Faso,Mauritania  Annual grain production in the Oudalan province of northern Burkina Faso declined 90 percent from last year due to desert locust infestations and dry conditions during the June-September rainy season. Grain production in the neighboring provinces of Seno and Soum fell 78 percent and 74 percent, respectively, from the previous year. Low rainfall also affected pasture conditions and water supplies and forced herders to sell off cattle at low prices (IRIN).

In Mauritania, the heavy locust infestation and poor rainfall (Jul-Sep 2004 SPI) this year caused heavy losses in the cereal harvest and severely affected poor households (FEWS Net). The FAO has warned that as much as 50 percent of the cereal crop may be lost, and the country has appealed for 246,000 tons of emergency food aid. 135,000 tons of animal feed has also been requested to help feed livestock that are threatened by damaged pasture (IRIN).

Africa - Ethiopia  Preliminary assessments have indicated that the first half of the October-December short rains (i.e., deyr rains) in the South Omo zone largely failed (October precipitation percentiles map). South Omo lies in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People's Region (SNNPR) in the southern lowlands of Ethiopia. Pastoralists, which comprise the majority of the population in the area, are dependent on the deyr rains for the water resources and pasture growth that will be needed during the December-March dry season. The poor deyr rains have exacerbated dry conditions left after the failure of the March-May rains (i.e., gu rains) earlier this year. Acute water shortages have been reported across the South Omo zone as ponds, streams, and shallow wells have dried up. Consequently, pastoralists have begun to move their livestock earlier than normal in search of water and good pasture. The perennial rivers of Omo and Weito and the Kizo plain are among the areas attracting migrating pastoralists. Food security conditions are reportedly deteriorating in the area and estimates indicate that the number of people receiving aid through March 2005 is expected to be twice that currently receiving aid due to the failed gu rains (i.e., approximately 85,000 people or 21 percent of the rural population). (FEWSNet)

The latest IRI forecast for the January-March 2005 season indicates an enhanced likelihood of above-normal precipitation in central and southern Ethiopia, although this is climatologically the driest season of the year.

Africa - Rwanda  Below-average rainfall in portions of Rwanda has contributed to poor crop production and subsequent food insecurity (FEWS Net food insecurity map). Bean, maize, and sorghum prices in some areas are 87%, 55%, and 73% higher, respectively, than they were last year due to the poor crop production, and assessments have indicated that approximately 122,000 households will need 30,000 MT of food aid in the next three months. The Bugesera region in the province of Kigali Rural, which also experienced crop failures during 2003, is among the areas hardest hit by poor production and high food prices (Sep 2003 CID Report). Approximately 12% of the population in Bugesera is food insecure, largely due to the poor bean and maize harvests from the February-July rainy season (i.e., 2004B rainy season; May-Jul 2003 WASP Index). Assessment teams found that the rates of food insecurity in some districts, including Gashora, Nyamata, Cyarubare, Rusumo, Karaba, and Nyakizu are as high as 20 percent. Food security conditions are not expected to greatly improve in the near future as the September-January rains (i.e., 2005A rainy season) began very late and have been erratic, according to FEWS Net. Many farmers were forced to plant on smaller areas than usual or were not able to plant at all for the 2005A season. (FEWS Net)

The latest IRI forecast for January-March 2005 indicates a slightly enhanced probability of above-normal precipitation in Rwanda.

Asia - India  According to the Indian Textile Minister, Indian silk production dropped from 17,351 metric tons in 2001-02 to 16,319 metric tons in 2002-03 and 15,742 metric tons in 2003-04, partially as a result of drought conditions in traditional silk-producing regions, including peninsular India (Dec 2002-Nov 2003 WASP Index, Dec 2003-Nov 2004 WASP Index) . Both mulberry raw silk and the area cultivated in mulberry declined in 2003-04 from previous years. Increased imports of Chinese silk have also been blamed for contributing to the decline in production. (Asia Pulse/PTI, India Business Insight)

South America - Bolivia  About 42,200 people in the El Chaco region of southeastern Bolivia require emergency food aid as a result of a severe drought this year. Overall, about 180,000 people in rural areas have been affected by the drought. The UN Disaster Management Team has issued a Flash Appeal to provide emergency food aid, supplementary food for children, clean drinking water, and seeds to families in the seven most affected municipalities of the region until May 2005. In the municipalities of Boyuibe, Camiri, Charagua, Cuevo, Gutierrez, Machareti, and Huacaya, 93 percent of the crops, on average, have been lost this year. Most of the rural population relies upon rain fed subsistence agriculture, and the staple crops are maize and beans. The rainy season runs from about October to April (graph), and the next harvest is not expected until May. Malnutrition rates have already begun to increase, and many people have begun migrating in search of additional income. (OCHA, WFP, ReliefWeb, WFP)

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