September to December period constitutes the second major rainfall season in Uganda. During the 44th Climate Outlook Forum (COF44) for the Greater Horn of Africa that was held at Speke Resort Hotel Munyonyo from 29th to 30th August 2016, the national, regional and international climate scientists reviewed the current state of the global climate systems and their implications on the seasonal rainfall over the east African region. It was observed that the major physical conditions that are likely to influence the evolution of weather conditions over Uganda and the rest of the region for the forecast period of September to December 2016 will be mostly La Niña conditions over equatorial eastern pacific Ocean that are predicted to persist during the rest of the 2016 and early months of 2017. It should be noted that when La Niña occurs, most parts of Uganda receive suppressed rainfall. Other conditions include:-

  1. The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) that has significant influence on regional climate is also predicted to be in the negative phase during the forecast period;
  2. The influence of regional circulation patterns, topographical features and large inland water bodies.

Based on the current La Niña conditions as well as details of the climatology and scientific tools for climate analysis, Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA) in the Ministry of Water and Environment, has come up with the detailed forecast as illustrated in the figure below:

IMPLICATIONS OF THE FORECAST

  1. The seasonal climate forecast for September to December 2016 indicates that there is an increased likelihood of near normal to below normal rainfall over several regions of the country. This implies that most regions of the country are expected to received the total rainfall that is below 75% of the long term mean (LTM) of the base period of 1981-2010.  Under this range there are high chances for socio-economic activities being stressed, the level of stress increasing with increasing rainfall deficiency. The areas that are likely to be more affected are those that lie along the Cattle Corridor of Uganda. Expected impacts include; water stress, shortage of pastures, Internal and cross-border conflicts, human and animal disease outbreaks, food insecurity leading to Poor Nutrition, possibility of diseases related to dry conditions such as meningitis and animal diseases such as foot and mouth disease, reduced water levels, Low discharges, drying up of acquifers and wetlands and reduced water availability.
  2. For the areas that have high chances of receiving near normal rains, means that the total rainfall expected will range between 75% to 125% of the long term mean (LTM) of the base period of 1981-2010. This range of rainfall is expected to adequately support the normal socio-economic activities for the various areas in those areas.
  3. The regions expected to receive near normal above normal rainfall, it implies that the total rainfall in those areas is expected to be above 125% of the long term mean (LTM) of the base period of 1981-2010. This means that the Impacts on socio-economic activities are mostly boosted especially in the modest degrees of above average for several areas. This is expected to be reflected in north-western and some parts of eastern regions.

 GENERAL ADVISORIES TO DIFFERENT SECTORS

REGIONS EXPECTING TO EXPERIENCE NEAR NORMAL TO BELOW NORMAL RAINFALL CONDITIONS

The Agricultural and food security Sector

  • Plant early maturing crops such as beans, upland rice and drought resistant varieties like non-cooking bananas, cassava (NASSE 14-drought tolerant), sweet potatoes etc  that can withstand the little rainfall situations;
  • Farmers are encouraged to carry out proper post-harvesting and storage practices so as to limit the post-harvest losses during transportation from gardens to stores;
  • Communities are advised to use available food and water sparingly to ensure water availability for small scale crop growing;
  • The pastoral households should maintain manageable herds and carry out Pests and Disease control measures for their livestock e.g. tick borne disease;
  • Proper management of fruit trees like mangoes, oranges is encouraged;
  • Water harvesting practices are advised.
  • Diversify livelihood options for easy adaptation due to high chances of low levels of agricultural output expected;

Health sector 

  • Sensitization and awareness campaigns on sanitation and hygienic issues to prevent disease outbreaks like meningitis and other airborne diseases should be carried out;
  • Vaccination and immunization of animals should be carried out in the pastoral communities especially Karamoja region due to expected cross boarder movements.

Water and Energy sector 

  • Efficient power utilisation and adoption of alternative power sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, gas etc is encouraged;
  • Water harvesting, storage and proper usage should be enhanced to resolve the issues of the expected water scarcity;
  • Communities should ensure proper catchment management and avoid encroachment on wetlands;
  • Desilting of valley dams is encouraged to ensure the maximum collection of the rain water. 

REGIONS EXPECTING TO EXPERIENCE NEAR NORMAL CONDITIONS / TO ABOVE NORMAL RAINFALL CONDITIONS

The Agricultural and food security Sector

  • The farming communities are encouraged to carry out timely planting of all forms of crops both perennial and annual such as commercial trees, fruit trees, cotton, coffee;
  • Soil Water Conservation practices like mulching, trenches are encouraged to ensure maximum water moisture content storage in the soil for proper plant growth and development;
  • Disease control measures should be put in place by agricultural communities, for instance, weeding, pruning and increased frequency of spraying during the rainy season at least once a week for both livestock and fruit trees like citrus;
  • There is need for timely procurement of farm inputs like seeds, manure, to avoid unnecessary late planting ready by start of the rains;
  • Pastoral communities are encouraged to maintain manageable numbers of livestock and to grow surplus pastures and fodder, hay making and silage for future use.

Disaster risk management

  • Establishment of food reserves at household levels / Village grain banks to prepare for the expected food insecurity;
  • Enacting and enforcement of By-laws and ordinances in the respective local governments as far as disaster management is concerned is encouraged;
  • Enhance and empower operations of District Disaster Committees as far as resources for disaster management is concerned;
  • Early warning information dissemination channels should be developed to ensure quick action by authorities in case of any emergencies;
  • Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and Ministry of Tourism and Trade should sensitize communities around the parks and wildlife reserves on the negative impacts of encroachment on game reserves especially during this La Nina period;
  • The government should introduce and establish weather insurance Index for extreme weather events to guarantee compensation of disasters affected communities.

Health sector

  • Regular surveillance of diseases, stock of relevant drugs and supplies is encouraged as a contingency measure against any expected disease outbreaks;
  • Clearing bushes, opening of drainages, purchase of mosquito nets, fumigating in and around homesteads is encouraged as a precautionary control measure against Malaria;
  • Immunization of animals against trypanosomiasis which is a common animal disease during rainy periods should be carried out;

Water and Energy sector

  • The concerned authorities should prepare for routine de-silting of channels and reservoirs
  • Buffer zones of vegetated/forested areas around water sources should be set up to guard against water pollution, and communities should avoid consumption of contaminated water;
  • Communities staying in low laying areas (flood prone) should take precautionary measures  to avoid damages and loss of properties;
  • De-silting of river beds, dams, valley tanks, and fishponds should be advised for example River. Nyamwamba to minimize water clogging during heavy down pours.

In conclusion

The predicted seasonal patterns require action in sufficient time and in an appropriate manner so as to take advantage of the information. These forecast advisories should be used for planning across all economic sectors so as to improve economic welfare and livelihoods for all our communities in their localities.

UNMA has taken a further step of publishing this seasonal forecast in two major national daily newspapers and translating it 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 and meetings/workshops.

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

The accuracy of the seasonal climate forecast for this season 2016 is about 80%. It is supported by useful forecast guidance inputs drawn from a wide range of sources including the World Meteorological Organizations’ 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 this season.

GIZ/GERMAN COORPORATIONUSAID
Supported by the GIZ/USAID PROJECT:
Strengthening Meteorological Products, Services and Use in the Agriculture and Water Sectors.