Forecasting Somalia’s Upcoming Rainy Gu’ Season

Forecasting Somalia’s Upcoming Rainy Gu’ Season

As Somalia braces for the anticipated rainfall season, Open Knowledge Somalia, through meticulous analysis of the FAO-SWALIM Flood Risk and Response Information Management System (FRRIMS) and Somali Water and Land Information Management (SWALIM) data, presents a compelling climate forecast for April 2024. With a 55% likelihood of above-normal rainfall predicted by IGAD’s Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC), the implications for our rivers, agriculture, and communities could be profound.

River Levels and Flood Risks: A Closer Look

The river stations along Jubba and Shabelle Rivers indicate current levels well below high-risk thresholds but with significant potential for change. For example, as of early April, the observed river level at Dollow on the Jubba River was 2.42m, against a moderate risk level of 4.50m and a high risk of 5.00m. Similarly, the Shabelle River at Belet Weyne recorded a level of 2.05m, with moderate and high-risk levels at 6.50m and 7.30m, respectively. These figures underscore a precarious balance—while current levels are manageable, the forecasted rainfall could rapidly shift these dynamics.

Rainfall Forecasts and Implications

The last week of March observed significant rainfall across Somalia, with places like Botor in the Woqooyi Galbeed region receiving an extraordinary 114.0 mm of rain. Such patterns are expected to continue into April, with heavy cumulative rainfall (between 100 mm and 150 mm) forecasted in key regions, including parts of Lower Juba, Bay, and Bakool. This is particularly concerning for the Jubba River catchment area, which is poised to receive substantial runoff, potentially escalating river levels and flooding risks.

Figure 1: Stations that observed rainfall of more than 1mm between 27th Mar – 2nd Apr 2024

Agricultural Outlook and Human Impact

Beyond the immediate risk of floods, the upcoming rains could significantly benefit agricultural and pastoral activities, particularly in regions expected to receive moderate rains. However, the heavy rains in isolated areas could generate sufficient runoff to raise river levels, posing a direct threat to both crop and livestock farming due to potential flooding.

Adaptive Measures and Recommendations

Given the forecast, there is an urgent need for “no-regret” actions, including the completion of ongoing structural interventions to mitigate flood risks and logistical preparations for potential flood-related impacts. This preparation is not just about averting disaster but also about seizing the opportunity to enhance agricultural productivity through timely planting and leveraging forecast moisture conditions.

Contributed by Mohamud M. Hassan Harbi,
academic and Open Knowledge Somalia founding member.

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