allAfrica.com: East Africa: Region Should Be Prepared for Further Food Insecurity - Weather Forecasters
East Africa: Region Should Be Prepared for Further Food Insecurity - Weather Forecasters
BY KATY MIGIRO, 13 FEBRUARY 2012
East Africa, still battling a hunger crisis, should be prepared for another dry spell and further food insecurity due to the persistence of La Ni-a weather conditions that last year brought severe drought to the region, weather forecasters have warned.
"La Ni-a conditions are expected to persist until March to May 2012," the World Meteorological Office said on its website on Sunday.
March to May is the main 'long rains' season for the region, which farmers and livestock herders depend upon for crops and pasture to grow and for water sources to replenish.
"Given extreme food insecurity during 2011 and the possibility of a poor Marchâ-ÂMay season in the eastern Horn of Africa, humanitarian partners should prepare contingency plans that could quickly address any disruptions to crop/livestock production and household food access that may occur," said the Famine Early Warning Systems Network in its latest update.
Some 13 million people in the Horn of Africa went hungry last year after severe drought hit the region.
There has been a weak-to-moderate La Ni-a - a phenomenon causing a cooling of the Pacific Ocean - from October and it is currently near its maximum strength, WMO said.
However, historical precedence and forecast models suggest this La Ni-a is weaker than the 2010-2011 event, it added.
FEWSNET describes the probability of below-normal rainfall as "moderate".
"There may also be a delay in the onset of the rains," it said.
Crops that take several months to mature - such as Kenya's staple food, maize - do not do well when rains are late.