Forecasting the June to September season at Somalia’s Climate Outlook Forum
The Greater Horn of Africa region, which includes Somalia and Somaliland, has always been prone to extreme weather events and climate-related hazards, such as droughts, floods, epidemics and cyclones. But with improved weather forecasting technology, it is now possible to prepare for such events and minimize their impacts by designing tailor-made mitigation and anticipatory action measures, based on information from forecasting agencies.
The Somali Red Crescent Society’s forecast-based financing project recently held a two-day Climate Outlook Forum, organized in partnership with the Somaliland Meteorological Services Department and the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC). The theme was ‘Climate services for anticipatory action’ and the main objectives were to:
- provide a climate outlook for the June to September season
- identify the potential impacts of the expected climate conditions on different socio-economic sectors
- discuss how to mainstream climate information and anticipatory action into these sectors
- formulate appropriate preparedness and mitigation measures.
The event also reviewed the performance of the March to May rainfall season.
The forum was an opportunity for different stakeholders at a national level to interact, which helps to ensure that users’ needs for seasonal predictions are met. It was attended by 31 participants, including local users, researchers, climate services providers (i.e., the Meteorological Services Department and ICPAC), representatives from the Somaliland ministries for agriculture, livestock, environment and water resources, the media, academia and disaster risk reduction experts. This multi-sectoral format was used to widen access to seasonal predictions and the implications for critical sectors.
Forecasting the June to September season for Somaliland
The June to September season, known locally as the Hagaa, has historically been dry. It is not the main rainy season but due to climate change, it has often seen the rains from the March to May season continue. In 2022, for example, Hargeisa, the capital city, received substantial amounts of rain during the June to September season. The unpredictability of the June to September season means that forecasting and advisory services have to be prepared for unexpected rains or wet conditions. This includes drafting preparedness actions that suit these unpredicted weather patterns.
During the Climate Outlook Forum, participants studied forecasts for the June to September season (Figure 1). These predict that most parts of Somaliland have a higher likelihood of a wetter-than-average season. This applies to most parts of the country, especially the Sool, Sanaag and Togdheer regions; the only exceptions are few parts of the extreme south-west, in the Awdal region.
Figure 1. Rainfall probabilistic forecast for Somaliland’s June to September (JJAS) season
In light of these forecasts, the forum participants considered potential preparedness activities and advice for different sectors.
Disaster risk management
- Although this is not the main rainy season, storms might affect the eastern regions and coastal areas, and livelihoods might be disrupted.
- There is a likelihood of flash floods over coastal areas and some inland districts.
- Establish flash flood preparedness and contingency plans.
- Disseminate information about the climate, community awareness and resource mobilization.
Agriculture and food security
- Enhanced rains to contribute positively to crop production (harvest in September).
- Put in place proper post-harvest handling for crops, as there will be wetter-than-average conditions.
- Improved pasture regeneration and water harvesting.
- Animal movements to occur in some areas due to inadequate water and pasture.
- People should take advantage of the expected high market prices and sell their livestock.
- Conserve water and pasture/fodder in areas receiving good rains during this season.
- Control vector-borne diseases (e.g., through deworming and vaccinations).
- Although this will be a wetter-than-average season, water scarcity may still be experienced in some districts that receive below-average precipitation during the March to May rainfall season.
- Possibility of flash floods.
- Conserve water in areas that will experience a dry season from June to September.
- Provide water-trucking services to those in need of water and far from water sources.
- Provide early warning information on potential risks to communities at risk of floods due to the predicted wetter-than-average season.
Environment and forestry
- A wetter-than-average rainfall season is expected, which is likely to increase the growth rate of trees and seed production.
- Increased fodder grass is likely to attract a considerable number of nomadic groups, affecting regeneration and leading to damage to young trees.
- Plant trees and encourage tending operations.
- Conserve forests by protecting regeneration areas and younger trees.
- Increased probability of vector-borne diseases, especially malaria.
- Communicate risks to areas at risk of malaria and dengue outbreaks.
- Provide and pre-position treatment commodities (e.g., medicines, supportive care supplies).