Seasonal Rainfall Outlook for March To May 2017 Over Uganda

  1. OVERVIEW

March to May (MAM) constitutes the first major rainfall season in Uganda.  During the 45th Climate Outlook Forum for the Greater Horn of Africa held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 5 to 8th February 2017, the national, regional and international climate scientists reviewed the state of the global climate system and its implications on the seasonal rainfall over the East African region. It was observed that the major physical conditions likely to influence the weather conditions of Uganda and the rest of the region for the forecast period of March to May 2017 are as follows:

  1. The predicted neutral phase of Indian Ocean Dipole and neutral ENSO conditions in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean (No El Niño & no La Niña);
  2. The influence of regional circulation patterns, topographical features and large inland water bodies.

Based on the above considerations as well as details of the climatology of Uganda and scientific tools for climate analysis, Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA) in the Ministry of Water and Environment, has come up with the following detailed forecast:-

  1. GENERAL FORECAST

Overall, there is an increased probability for above normal rainfall for western sector of Uganda, normal rainfall for central, Lake Victoria Basin, south-eastern, and central-northern Uganda, and below normal for Karamoja region and parts of Lango and Acholi regions.

It should be noted that the onset of seasonal rains is expected to be characterized by severe thunderstorms and hailstorms over several parts of the country. The breakdown of the forecast for each region is given as follows: 

2.1 EASTERN UGANDA

2.1.1 Eastern Lake Victoria and South Eastern: (Jinja, Mayuge, Kamuli, Iganga, Bugiri, Namayingo, Luuka, Namutumba, Buyende, Kaliro, Busia and Tororo) districts

  • This region has been experiencing dry conditions since December. The onset of seasonal rains is expected around early to mid March and the peak is expected around mid April through early May. The cessation is expected around late May. Overall, this region has a high chance of receiving near normal rainfall.

2.1.2 Eastern Central (Pallisa, Budaka, Kibuku, Mbale, Sironko, Manafwa, Bududa, Kapchorwa, Kumi, Kaberamaido, Soroti, Serere, Amolatar, Butaleja, Bulambuli, Kween, Bukwo, Bukedea and Ngora) districts

  • The onset of seasonal rains over this region is expected around mid March. The peak rains are expected around late April and the cessation around mid June. Overall the region is expected to receive near normal rains.

2.1.3 North Eastern Region:  (Katakwi, Moroto, Kotido, Nakapiripirit, Abim, Napak, Amudat, Amuria, and Kaabong) districts 

  • This region has been experiencing dry conditions reaching drought levels in several areas since December. However, irregular light rains are expected to set in around late March, thereafter a prolonged dry spell is expected until mid April when steady rains are expected to get established. The peak is expected around early to mid May, and then moderate relaxation around mid June 2017. Overall, there are high chances for below normal rainfall over this region. 

2.2 NORTHERN UGANDA

2.2.1 Eastern parts of northern region: (Lira, Alebtong,  Kitgum, Agago, Otuke, Pader, Kole, and Dokolo) districts 

  • The onset of normal seasonal rainfall is expected around early to mid April. Moderate relaxation of rains is expected around mid June. Overall, near normal rainfall with tendency to below normal is expected during this season.

2.2.2 Central Northern Parts: (Gulu, Apac, Lamwo, Nwoya, Amuru, Oyam and Kiryandongo) districts

  • The region is currently experiencing dry spells which are expected to continue up to mid/late March when the onset of the seasonal rains is expected to get established. The moderate relaxation of rains is expected around mid June. Overall, there are high chances for near normal rains over this region.

2.2.3 North Western: (Moyo, Arua, Maracha, Nebbi, Adjumani, Yumbe, Koboko, Terego and Zombo) districts

  • The region has been experiencing dry conditions since January. The onset of seasonal rainfall is expected around late March to early April. The peak of the rainfall is expected around late April 2017 and moderate relaxation is expected around mid June 2017. Overall, there are high chances for near normal to above normal over this region.

2.3 WESTERN UGANDA

2.3.1 South Western (Kisoro, Kabale, Rukungiri, Kanungu, Ntungamo, Mbarara, Kiruhura, Isingiro, Ibanda, Bushenyi, Buhweju, Mitooma, Sheema, Rubirizi and Kasese) districts

  • The region has been experiencing dry conditions since December. The onset of seasonal rainfall is expected late February to early March. The peak of the rains is expected around mid April and the cessation around late May to early June. Overall, the region is expected to receive above normal rainfall during this season.

2.3.2 Western Central (Bundibugyo, Ntoroko, Kabarole, Kyenjojo, Kyegegwa, Kamwenge, Kibaale, Hoima, Buliisa and Masindi) districts

  • The region has been experiencing relatively dry conditions since January. The onset of seasonal rains is expected around mid to late March. The peak is expected around mid to late April. The cessation of the seasonal rains is expected around early to mid June. Overall, there are high chances for near normal rains with slight tendency to above normal over this region.

2.4 LAKE VICTORIA BASIN AND CENTRAL AREAS

2.4.1 Central and Western Lake Victoria Basin: (Kalangala, Kampala, Wakiso, Eastern Masaka, Lwengo, Mpigi, Butambala, Kalungu, Bukomansimbi, Gomba, and Mityana) districts

  • The onset of seasonal rains in this region is expected around late February to early March and is expected to be accompanied by strong and destructive winds as well as hailstorms and thereafter, rains are expected to intensify with the peak occurring around mid April. The cessation is expected around early to mid June 2017. Overall, there are high chances of near normal rainfall over this region.

2.4.2 Western Parts of Central: (Nakasongola, Luwero, Kyankwanzi, Nakaseke, Kiboga, Mubende, Sembabule, Western Masaka, Lyantonde, and   Rakai) districts

  • The onset of the seasonal rains is expected to get established around early to mid March. The peak of rains is expected to occur around mid April. The cessation is expected around early/mid June. Overall, there are high chances of near normal rainfall over this region.

2.4.3 Eastern parts of Central: (Mukono, Buikwe, Kayunga, Buvuma) districts

  • The onset of seasonal rains is expected around early to mid March. The peak of rains is expected around mid April. The cessation is expected around early to mid June. It should be noted that the seasonal rains in this region are expected to be interrupted by occasional dry spells. Overall, near normal rainfall is expected over this region.

3.0 THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE CURRENT FORECAST

  1. There are high chances that the rainfall performance over several places in the country is expected to be near normal. The implication is that these areas will receive rainfall within average range of their long term mean and rainfall is expected to adequately support the normal socio-economic activities for the various areas;
  2. There are high chances that Karamoja region, parts of Lango and Acholi are expected to experience below normal rainfall during this season. This implies that the total rainfall expected over these regions is below 75% of the Long Term Mean (LTM). Under this range there are high chances for socio-economic activities being stressed, the level of stress increasing with increasing rainfall deficiency
  • It should also be noted that localized episodic flash flood events may also be observed in areas that are expected to receive near normal to below rainfall as a result of isolated heavy down pours and similarly, poor rainfall distribution may occur in localized areas expected to receive above normal rainfall.

4.0 SPECIFIC ADVISORIES TO DIFFERENT SECTORS:

4.1 Agriculture and Food Security Sector

The farmers are advised to do the following:

4.1.1 Regions expecting near normal to above normal rainfall and with 2.5+ months growing season (South-Western, Central, Lake Victoria Basin, and South Eastern regions).

Farmers in these regions where rainfall onset is expected to get established around early to mid March should:-

  • Start securing inputs and Early land preparations, which will allow timely planting;
  • Plant long maturing crops like millet, rice, sorghum, maize, cassava, sweet potatoes on the start of rains and short quick maturing crops later as the rains progress such as legumes, root tubers and vegetables.
  • Carryout soil and water conservation practices such as digging trenches, mulching, minimum tillage (ripping, raised beds, planting basins)
  • Enhance surveillance of crop gardens for pests and diseases;
  • Good agronomic practices (proper spacing, fertilizer use, weeding)
  • Livestock farmers are advised to plant livestock fodders at the onset of the rains;
  • Water harvesting for home consumption, and ground water harvesting into gardens, dams and valley tanks for livestock and sustaining crop production is encouraged;

4.1.2 Regions expecting below normal rainfall and with length of 1-2.5 months growing season such as Karamoja & neighbouring areas are advised to do the following:-

  • Use irregular light rains for early land preparation and securing inputs like seed, fertilizer, chemicals.
  • Timely planting of improved varieties (i.e. quick maturing and drought tolerant) e.g. Beans (NABE 15-23 series), maize (Longe 5, 7H, 10H-11H).
  • Rain water harvesting (in-situ, roof, surface-run-off) for usage when the rains start is encouraged;
  • Soil and water conservation practices e.g. terraces, stone bunds, trenches, grass bunds, mulching to control soil erosion and enhance soil moisture retention
  • Pasture preservation/making hay is encouraged
  • Good agronomic practices for crops such as proper spacing, proper use of fertilizer
  • Diversification for example intercropping and mixed cropping; Maize/beans, maize-cowpea, maize-soybean.
  • Low-cost irrigation systems like small-scale drip irrigation e.g. use of plastic bottles filled with water

In general, farmers are advised to make use of the seasonal rains by optimizing crop yield through appropriate land-use management. Farmers are also encouraged to plant enough food for both domestic use and sale to emerging markets in the neighbouring countries.

4.2 Disaster Management Sector

It should be noted that local and month-to-month variations might occur as the season progresses. For example, episodic flash floods might be experienced in some areas leading to loss of lives and destruction of property. Other disasters may arise from possible landslides mostly in mountainous areas of western, south-western and eastern Uganda as well as strong and gusty winds and lightning among others. Therefore, appropriate measures should be taken to avoid loss of life and destruction of infrastructure and property.

  • Village, Sub county and District Disaster Management committees are advised to report any emerging incident associated with weather and climate hazards immediately to the concerned authorities at National Emergency  Coordination and Operation Centre (NECOC), Office of the Prime Minister  on toll free line 0800177777;
  • De-silt the dams in Karamoja sub region to capture and store the water flows from expected limited rains for use;
  • District authorities are advised to update their contingency plans for better coordination in case of any weather and climate disaster that might occur during this season.

4.3 Water, Energy and Hydro-Power generation

4.3.1  Regions expecting near normal to above normal

  • Plans for optimization of power generation and distribution should be enhanced due to the expected increased discharge of seasonal rain water into the water bodies;
  • Setting up and protection of vegetated/forested buffer zones around water sources to guard against water pollution should be encouraged and communities should avoid consumption of contaminated water;

4.3.2      Regions expecting near below normal rainfall

  • Water source protection and management should be strengthened for water security;
  • Water should be used sparingly and where possible water recycling can also be adopted;
  • Protect and conserve the water infrastructure in the areas like already established dams and valley tanks;
  • Soil and water conservation should be encouraged like mulching;
  • Other energy sources like solar, biogas and wind energy should be exploited for example Biogas fuel using energy saving stoves.

4.4 Infrastructure, Works and Transport Sector

The anticipated near normal rainfall patterns are likely to be occasionally accompanied by intense rainfall events that may lead to flash flooding in some localized places especially in Kampala city and other urban areas. The following measures should be taken:-

  • Urban authorities need to clear and reduce blockages of the drainage systems to avoid water logging on streets;
  • Strong/violent winds may be experienced that can cause structural damages to buildings (blow off rooftops and collapse of poorly constructed buildings);
  • De-silting drainages and other water channels to curtail flooding is encouranged;

4.5 Health

There is need to increase disease surveillance due to expected upsurges of epidemics of diseases related to rainy season such as Malaria, Cholera, Bilharzia and Typhoid, also increase in lower respiratory diseases e.g. Asthma due to humid conditions and  allergies from some flowering plants are expected. Health authorities are therefore advised to be on the lookout and equip health units with necessary drugs to deal with such situations as they may arise. Therefore the following measures should be done:

  • Intensify heath education and awareness campaigns emphasizing the use of mosquito nets, slashing bushes, disposing open containers, filling up open pits, and draining stagnant water around homesteads in order to reduce bleeding places for mosquitoes;
  • Frequent health inspection in all communities is encouraged;
  • Increased prevention for air borne diseases and non-communicable illnesses should be improved;
  • Improve domestic hygiene and Sanitation around homes and schools to reduce on the contamination of water. E.g. use of latrine

In conclusion,

The predicted rains require action in sufficient time and in an appropriate manner so as to take advantage of the information. This forecast should be used for planning in all rain-fed economic activities so as to improve economic welfare and livelihoods for all our communities in their localities.

The Uganda National Meteorological Authority in partnership with other stakeholders have translated  this forecast into thirty five (35) different local languages for audio and text messages. These translated messages will be disseminated to communities in different parts of the country mainly using local FM radios, Newspapers and meetings/workshops.

For God and My Country 

Hon. Ronald Kibule
MINISTER OF STATE FOR WATER

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES TO TERMINOLOGY

Above Normal:

This is when the total rainfall is above 125% of the long – term -mean (LTM). Impact on socio-economic activities is mostly boosted especially in the modest degrees of above average.

Normal:

This is when the total rainfall is in the range of 75% to 125%of the LMT. This range of rainfall is expected to adequately support the normal socio-economic activities for the various areas.

Below Normal:

This is when the total rainfall is below 75% of the LTM.  Under this range there are high chances for socio-economic activities being stressed, the level of stress increasing with increasing rainfall deficiency.

Accuracy:            

This forecast is up to 75% accurate.  It is supported by useful forecast guidance inputs drawn from a wide range of sources including the World Meteorological Organisation’s Global Producing Centres (WMO GPCs). These inputs were combined into a regional consensus forecast using deterministic and probabilistic modelling alongside expert analysis and interpretation to obtain the regional rainfall forecast for the March to May 2017 season.

General:              

The Uganda National Meteorological Authority will continue to monitor the evolution of relevant weather systems particularly the state of the SSTs and issue appropriate updates and advisories to the users regularly.

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