Nation Hopes for Rains After a Bone-Dry December

There are predictions of an El Nintildeo hitting the Southern Hemisphere summer that would last into the first months of 2015, and this has Namibia pinning its hope on late but good rains towards the end of January that hopefully would be maintained in February and March.

While the north-central and far north-east parts of the country recorded below average rainfall in December, the north-central parts have hardly seen any rain with Windhoek and surrounding areas receiving only some 30 mm on average early in the holiday month. For the past 26 days, not a drop of rain was measured in the capital and north-eastern parts. At the same time, temperatures soared into the mid-30s.

According to the SADC Regional Climate Outlook, the picture looks bleaker for Namibia which received an average rainfall of below 100 millimetres when rain started in mid-October to November and December. Namibia’s rainfall levels were very low compared to the 400 milimetres in South Africa, and the above 600 millimetres recorded in Malawi, Zambia, Angola, southern half of DRC, central and northern Mozambique as well as Mauritius and Madagascar.

In interviews with New Era, crop and livestock farmers in the north-central regions expressed different views on what to expect from the current rainy season. While most parts of Namibia reported improved grazing conditions except the north central and north western part of Namibia after some rain earlier last year, a bleak picture is starting to unfold in the absence of rain in the current season that started in October 2014 and has up to now showed very little to impress farmers. g winds have shifted a lot of top soil in deforested areas where the land is bare and over-grazed, making it vulnerable to wind erosion.

The situation is deteriorating fast in Oshana, Oshikoto, Omusati and Ohangwena, where fair to poor grazing conditions were reported except in the cattle post areas where good to moderate grazing conditions were reported.

Even in areas where good grazing conditions were reported that include Zambezi, Kavango East, Kavango West, Otjozondjupa, Khomas, Omaheke, Hardap, and Erongo Regions, the situation is stirring up fears of very late rains in the current season.

The inadequate grazing conditions came as a result of generally poor rainfall, seen in the forms of erratic, sporadic and insufficient rainfall in the first half of the season, and a serious of prolonged dry spell in January and most of February 2014.

The same pattern is now developing, causing great concern for both commercial and communal famers across the country.

Already poor grazing conditions in the !Karas Region are also deteriorating fast in the absence of rain.

Grazing conditions in the north and south of the Kunene region range from extremely poor to poor.

In Kunene central, the annual grasses have grown but perennial grasses had not improved.

Although there were some annual grasses visible, they did not thrive to the current rainy season.

In the east of Kunene, the grazing conditions are reported to be fair, especially from Outjo up to Otjikondo area. In Erongo Region, grazing conditions are reported to be fair in Uis, Omatjette, Otjimbingwe, Omaruru and Karibib areas, while poor at Okombahe and Spitzkoppe areas because of low rainfall received.

Livestock conditions in most regions are said to have improved after the drought of 2013, except in Kunene Region and the north and extreme parts of the Omusati Region where the situation is reported to range between poor and fair.

The SADC Climate Services Centre says the conditions resulted in moisture deficits and worsened conditions on the ground.

Overall, several features across the tropical Pacific are characteristic of borderline El Nintildeo conditions, but collectively, the combined atmosphere and oceanic state remains ENSO-neutral, raising hopes for better rains later this month and in February and March.

Source : New Era