Severe drought conditions persist over eastern Horn despite late seasonal rains
Rainfall in March and April was characterized by a significantly delayed onset of the March to May/June rainfall season, with well below-average rainfall across much of the region. Many areas recorded less than 75 percent of the historical average, while much of eastern Kenya, southern Somalia, and eastern Ethiopia received less than 60 percent of the historical average. As April marks the typical peak of the Gu/long rains season in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia, prospects for rainfall recovery are increasingly low. This is now the fourth sequential poor rainfall season in the eastern Horn.
Given that April is typically the peak month of the March to May seasonal rains, its poor performance is expected to have significantly adverse impacts on crop and livestock production across eastern East Africa. Early-season crop production prospects for eastern Kenya and southern Somalia cropping zones remain unfavorable, and pasture and water shortages continue to drive livestock emaciation and very high livestock mortality rates. In Ethiopia, belg planting is limited, but belg planted crops are generally in good condition. Overall, local harvests are expected to be well below average, with possible crop failure in localized areas.
Based on the short-term forecast through mid-May, below-normal rainfall will likely persist across much of East Africa. As a result, prospects for seasonal rainfall recovery are increasingly low. Meanwhile, the IRI/CPC sub-seasonal (sub-X) rainfall forecasts for mid-to late-May are indicative of an increased likelihood for continued below average rainfall in the worst-drought affected areas of the eastern Horn and much of the western sector. The overall seasonal rainfall performance into late May is likely to be ranked among the worst on record in parts of the eastern Horn.