JOHANNESBURG - Southern Africa faces further drought through March as land preparation and planting of summer crops gets underway, even after most parts of the region received near-normal rainfall through early November, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network.
“Seasonal forecasts indicate enhanced chances of below average seasonal rainfall totals, raising concerns on the backdrop of the severe drought of the 2018-19 season,” the Washington-based institution, known as FEWS NET, said in a report on its website.
The forecast echoes a United Nations report in August, which said as many as 12 million people in the region faced food insecurity by March next year as a result of the worst drought in almost 40 years.
While most parts of the region received near-average rainfall between September and early November, “negative rainfall anomalies” were seen in Lesotho, eastern South Africa, parts of Zambia, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, parts of Madagascar, and western Tanzania, FEWS NET said.
The 2018-19 rainfall season was one of the driest since at least 1981 in many areas including much of Namibia, southern Angola, southern Zambia, north-western Botswana, north-western Zimbabwe, and western Madagascar, it said.
“A similar analysis conducted for five-year cumulative rainfall periods suggested that many western parts of the region, including southern Angola, much of western South Africa and much of western Madagascar, are currently experiencing a severe long-term drought,” according to FEWS NET.
Many areas experienced abnormally hot weather in October, and warmer than normal temperatures are forecast for the 2019-20 season, it said.