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IRI Climate Digest   November 2004

Climate Impacts - October

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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Asia - Bangladesh,India  The extensive flooding in Bangladesh in July, August, and September of 2004 killed about 760 people, damaged 4 million homes, and destroyed 1 million hectares of crops. At the beginning of November, WFP renewed an appeal for international aid for Bangladesh in the wake of the floods. Malnutrition levels have begun to rise and millions of people in the country still need food aid and other assistance (Xinhua). According to the FAO, this year's flooding heavily damaged rice production and livestock (FAO). Many poor rural residents have been forced to rely on wild sources of food (AFP). Additional heavy rain in early October in northeastern India and Bangladesh, characterized as one of the worst heavy rainfall events in a decade outside of the monsoon season, resulted in damaging floods in the states of Assam, Meghalaya, and West Bengal, and in several districts in Bangladesh. As many as 192 people have been killed and 100,000 displaced (DFO, BBC).

Central America,South America - Panama,Colombia  Colombia has experienced heavy rains, flooding, and landslides since the beginning of October, which coincides with a slightly early start to the rainy season. The second climatological rainy season in this region typically occurs between late-October and December. (Climatological Precipitation Loop) A state of emergency has been declared in eight departments in northern Colombia, where there have been 23 deaths and nearly 252,000 people affected. As of November 17, a state of emergency had been declared in the departments of Córdoba, Magdalena, Santander, Atlántico, Bolívar, Cesar, Guajira, and Sucre, and another 16 of the country's 33 departments had experienced floods and landslides as well. Many of those affected were living in high-risk areas after being displaced by the country's internal conflict. Approximately 65,000 and 49,000 of the 250,000 affected are in the departments of Bolívar and Cordoba, respectively. In Bolívar, flood waters damaged farmland and houses after a dike on the Cauca River broke. Approximately 160,000 square kilometers have been affected by flooding along the Cuaca River and at least 1300 hectares of farmland have been destroyed countrywide. The IFRC launched an appeal on November 5 for nearly USD 800,000 to help 20,000 people for 6 months. (IFRC, OCHA, IFRC) Heavy rains also brought flooding to Panama during October. About 3400 people were affected in Panama City after the Cabra, Pacora, and Tocumen Rivers overflowed their banks. Strong rains and flooding also affected at least another 500 people the provinces of Chiriqui, Los Santos, and Veraguas. (IFRC)

The latest IRI seasonal precipitation forecast for the December 2004 to February 2005 season indicates a slightly enhanced probability of below-normal precipitation in much of northern and central Colombia.


Asia - Vietnam  Flooding has affected the southern Mekong delta in Vietnam since August. The provinces of Dong Thap, Au Giang, Long An, and Kien Giang, which generally experience their climatological rainy season between June and October, were among those worst affected. Conflicting death toll estimates indicate that 16-27 people were killed. An official from the Central Steering Committee on Flood and Storm Prevention reported that 15,000 homes, 217 schools, and 4800 hectares of crops were inundated by the floods. (Xinhua, The wet weather and a long spell of abnormally high temperatures have also played a role in a recent dengue outbreak in the region, according to experts in the health ministry. Since the beginning of the year, 87 deaths have been reported and over 60,000 people have been infected, an increase of 64% and 83% over last year, respectively. More than 95% of the total reported cases in Vietnam have been in the southern Mekong delta.(AFP)

The latest IRI seasonal precipitation forecast for the December 2004 to February 2005 season suggests a slightly enhanced probability of above-normal rainfall in northern Vietnam and Laos, and a slightly to moderately enhanced probability of below-normal rainfall in southern Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

Water Resources

Africa - Chad,Sudan  Below-normal rainfall during the summer rainfall season (Jul-Sep 2004 precipitation anomaly) has contributed to water shortages among refugees from the Darfur region of Sudan who are located in camps in eastern Chad, according to UNHCR. The arid region normally receives less than 450 millimeters of precipitation per year. After the end of the rainy season, daily water rations for the 15,000 inhabitants of the Iridimi refugee camp (ReliefWeb map) have been cut from 15 liters per person per day to 6 or 10 liters due to the drop in water levels in boreholes used at the camp. The establishment of new camps to house 200,000 additional refugees has been delayed as well (IRIN).

According to FEWS Net, the below-normal rainfall this year in river catchments that serve southern Sudan has resulted in lower-than-normal seasonal flood levels. Adequate flooding along rivers in southern Sudan is necessary to support fish, water lily, and other wild foods that people in the region depend upon during the dry season (FEWS Net, IRIN). However, improved rainfall during August and September have helped recently harvested maize and sorghum crops recover from dry conditions in June and July.

Asia - Afghanistan,Pakistan  Afghanistan and Pakistan continue to feel the effects of unfavorable climate conditions that occurred throughout much of this year. (Sep, Jul, Mar 2004 CID Reports) An inter-ministerial assessment in 14 provinces indicated that water levels in shallow wells have dropped by 4.3 meters since last year and poor access to water has caused approximately 8500 households to be displaced in the past three months. Estimates of a poor cereal harvest in Afghanistan have materialized as well; the 2004 harvest of 3 million tons is 43 percent less than the record harvest of 2003 and 18 percent less than the recent average. Drought conditions in western, southern and north areas of the country have taken the majority of the blame for the poor harvest. The situation has also been complicated by outbreaks of pests and diseases that have affected orchards and livestock in the north. Approximately 35 percent of the rural population is facing food insecurity and will require 153,000 tons of food aid. The northern province of Faryab, in particular, is experiencing widespread food insecurity, where approximately 80 percent of the arable land is rain-fed and has been affected by drought since 1999. More than 70 percent (1 million) of the people in Faryab have been affected by severe drought and poverty and livelihood structures for much of the population have deteriorated due to the loss of homes, property and production resources, such as livestock. Drought-related impacts such as lack of food security and water are inhibiting the return of internally displaced persons to their homes as well. (FAO, IRIN, Norwegian Refugee Council)

Impacts from drought conditions continue to be reported in Pakistan as well. The southern and eastern provinces of Sindh, Balochistan, and Punjab are among those hardest hit after they received only 12 percent, 29 percent, and 69 percent of their normal monsoon rainfall, respectively. Below-normal temperatures during the summer have reportedly affected snowmelt in the region, which accounts for 80 percent of the water in the Tarbela reservoir. (June Temperature Anomaly Map)Ground water levels have dropped to 700-800 feet (213-243 meters). (IRIN)

While southern Pakistan struggles with water resource problems, northern Pakistan is trying to cope with record rain and snowfall that caused 8 deaths and damaged staple crops (e.g., maize and rice) and homes. Damage to orchards was also quite extensive. The district of Chitral was the worst hit after the region received over 300 mm of precipitation in mid-October. (October Precipitation Percentile Map) According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department, the region has not received that much precipitation in October for 25-30 years. Northern Pakistan typically receives most of its precipitation during February-April and July-August with October being the second driest month of the year. (Precipitation Climatology Map) The only road connecting the region to the rest of the country was not fully open for at least one week. Food shortages are expected in the Chitral during the coming winter due to the damaged staple crops. (IRIN)


Africa - Tanzania  Crop failures caused by poor rains earlier in the year have affected food security in the northern highlands of Tanzania. These areas, which have a single rainy season that generally extends from March to May, only received approximately 50% of their climatological precipitation during 2004. (Precipitation anomalies Mar-May 2004) Estimates indicate that 180,000 people are in need of food aid, in addition to a few thousand others in need of seeds for the next planting season. Food shortages in Kenya have complicated the situation; Tanzanian farmers have exported much of their harvest to Kenya to take advantage of the higher prices. According to FEWSNet, about 1,400 metric tons of seeds and 19,000 metric tons of food are needed in the region. (IRIN)

The latest IRI precipitation forecast for the December 2004 to February 2005 season indicates a slightly enhanced probability of above-normal precipitation for most of Tanzania.

Africa - Eritrea,Ethiopia,Somalia  Above-normal precipitation fell in northern Somalia in September and in southern Somalia in mid-October (estimated precipitation animation), marking the beginning of the "deyr" rainy season. The rains have improved pasture conditions somewhat in northern Somalia after several years of drought, which has had devastating effects on food security (IRIN). According to WFP, the heavy rains in the south in October hampered food relief operations to people along the Juba River where the general acute malnutrition rate has reached as high as 20 percent (WFP). In Eritrea, poor June-September rainfall (Jul-Sep 2004 precipitation anomaly) is being blamed for a cereal harvest that is expected to be only 58 percent of normal. Pasture conditions and water availability remain poor in most areas as well (IRIN). About two-thirds of the population suffers from food shortages due to inadequate rainfall; 384,000 metric tons of emergency food aid is required for 2.2 million people (IRIN). In Ethiopia, long-term dry conditions in the Somali region are leading to a humanitarian emergency due to developing acute food insecurity. Many pastoralists in the Somali region have lost most of their livestock, and crop production remains low in agricultural areas (IRIN; IRIN). Ethiopia's Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC) has warned that up to 12 million people in the country will experience food shortages in 2005 (IRIN).

Africa - Kenya  Some sections of the Northeastern and Coast provinces of Kenya (largely in pastoral areas) received above-normal precipitation during October (precipitation anomaly map), but most agricultural areas that have been affected by the long-term drought remained dry. According to FEWS Net, pastoral districts in which food security has been a problem and where October rainfall was below normal include Turkana, Marsabit, Narok, Kajiado, and northern Tana River. The dry conditions thus far this season may also affect agriculture in the districts of Narok and Kajiado (FEWS Net). Large numbers of livestock continue to die in several eastern pastoral districts, including Mandera and Wajir, and very high global acute malnutrition rates have been found in Wajir and Garissa. Throughout Kenya about 2.3 million people are in danger of food shortages due to the drought (IRIN).

The latest IRI seasonal precipitation forecast for December 2004-February 2005 indicates a slightly enhanced probability of above-normal precipitation for much of western and southern Kenya.

Africa - Africa,Africa: North,Africa: West  As vegetation began drying out at the end of the rainy season in the Sahel, desert locust swarms continued to migrate northward to their winter breeding areas in Morocco, Algeria, Libya, and Tunisia during October (FAO map). As a result, locust infestations in the Sahel declined during the month. Although locusts did not cause devastating regional crop damage (cereal production in the Sahelian countries this year is estimated at 11.6 million metric tons -- near the previous five-year average), they did cause severe damage in Mauritania and localized areas elsewhere. Mauritania may lose as much as 50 percent of its cereal crop and suffer severe damage to pasture due to the locust infestation (FAO, IRIN). Even though the major cropping areas in central Mali reportedly did not receive extensive damage (IRIN), as much as 10,000 metric tons of emergency food aid may need to be distributed to about 900,000 people in the country who were affected by the locust outbreak (IRIN). Further north, strong southwesterly winds over North Africa in mid- to late-October (925 hPa wind animation) helped to transport desert locusts northeastward to the Mediterranean Sea and carried some as far as Crete and Cyprus (FAO).

Central America - Guatemala,Honduras,Nicaragua  An extended midseason dry spell in Guatemala and Honduras has affected the maize crop in those countries (reference map). The region typically experiences a short lull in the rainy season in either July or August, but this year's dry period was twice as long as normal in some areas. In Guatemala, the departments of Retalhuleu and Suchitepéquez in the south-west and El Progreso, Zacapa and Chiquimula in the east were among the worst affected. Maize imports are expected to be approximately 6 percent higher than last year. About 30,000 families in the Honduran departments of Francisco Morazán, El Paraiso, Choluteca, Intibucá and Gracias a Dios lost their subsistence food crops due to extended dry conditions in July. Bean and sorghum seeds and fertilizer are being distributed by the Ministry of Agriculture to drought-affected farmers. Nicaragua also experienced dry conditions from May to the end of July. Losses of 50-100 percent of the maize and bean crops, or 63,000 and 22,000 hectares, respectviely, in the northern and northwestern departments of Chinandega, Esteli, León, Madriz and Matagalpa have been reported. (FAO/GIEWS)

Europe - Europe  Good weather during much of the last year has contributed to good grain production throughout the European Union, according to reports from the USDA. Conditions credited for the good production of winter grains and rapeseed and for high maize and sunflower yields include good winter grain planting conditions in fall 2003, generally adequate winter moisture, moderate winter weather and protective snow cover in the eastern winter grain regions, moderate spring and summer temperatures, and moderate to above-average summer precipitation (USDA). This year's wheat production in the EU is estimated at 133.3 million tons (25 percent above last year's poor crop) and yield is forecast to reach a record 5.75 tons/hectare. In the Ukraine, wheat production this year is estimated to be nearly five times greater than last year's crop, which was heavily damaged by severe winter weather (USDA). Barley yield is estimated to reach a record of 4.53 tons/hectare, but heavy rains at harvest in France, Germany, and the UK may have reduced the quality of the crop there. According to USDA, the corn harvest will likely reach 51 million tons, about 10 percent above the previous five-year average. (USDA)

The latest IRI seasonal precipitation forecast for the December 2004 to February 2005 season suggests a slightly enhanced probability of above-normal precipitation in parts of southeastern Europe.

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