Southern African climate experts have forecast normal to above normal rainfall in the coming 2021 – 2022 cropping season over most parts of the SADC region.
This is according to a seasonal forecast from the 25th Southern African Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF 25) adopted today.
Normal to above-normal rainfall is most likely over the bulk of SADC in the period from October to December (OND) 2021, with north-western part of Angola, bulk of Democratic Republic of Congo, western and southern Madagascar, northern Malawi, northern Mozambique, western fringes of Namibia and South Africa, south-western United Republic of Tanzania and north-eastern Zambia likely to receive normal to below-normal rains.
The January to March (JFM) 2022 period is expected to have normal to above normal rainfall for most of the region except for, south-western fringes of Angola, western fringes of Namibia and South Africa.
The 25th Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF-25) was held virtually from August 30 to 31 to generate a consensus outlook for the 2021/2022 rainfall season over the SADC region.
Zimbabwe is forecast to receive normal to above normal rains in the October-November-December period as well in the last half of the 2021 -2022 cropping season – January – February – March (2022) phase.
This is for the second consecutive season that the region is forecast to get better rains after the 16-member SADC bloc got adequate rains throughout the 2020/21 agricultural season.
From the regional SARCOF report climate experts will develop more detailed National Outlook Climate Forum for individual countries in the coming few days.
Regional climate experts noted that there were greater chances of a La Nina, a weather event normally associated with wetter conditions.
La Ninas are normally associated with wet conditions for Zimbabwe and the entire southern Africa sub-continent even in certain zones it does result in widespread rain.
Experts said the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is in a cold phase that is La Nina, which is projected to persist into the 2021 -2022 season.
El Nino is the opposite, a weather condition which begins with the warming of the waters in the Western Pacific Ocean and eventually affects the global climate.
This natural warming event alters weather patterns worldwide, causing droughts in Southern Africa and worsening food and water security position.
Climate experts further said that La Nina events are also associated with heightened risk of flooding and cyclones as well as cool daytime temperatures.
Some zones such as south-western Angola and western coastal areas of Namibia and western fringes of South Africa, have increased chances of normal to below-normal rainfall.
Western Madagascar is likely to receive normal to below-normal rainfall while the eastern side of this island nation will get normal to above-normal rainfall.
Southern Madagascar has increased chances of normal to below-normal rainfall while other island countries that include Mauritius, Seychelles and the Comoros will receive normal to above-normal rainfall.
Adequate rains forecast for the coming season will have a positive impact on agriculture, water resources and hydropower generation in most of the region.
However, experts warned that flooding, cyclones, leaching, outbreaks of locusts, fall army worm, damage of infrastructure in low-lying areas as well as outbreaks of water borne diseases such as malaria and cholera could pose problems for the region.
For Zimbabwe, improved rains this season were likely to further replenish ground and dam water resources bolstering water, food and energy security for the country.
Zimbabwe is expecting some 1,8 million tonnes of maize and 200 000 tonnes of traditional grains in one of the best harvest seasons in decades, due to good rains received last season.
The rainfall outlook was prepared by climate scientists from national meteorological and hydrological services within the SADC region as well as the SADC Drought Monitoring Centre and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society.