Women in Somali Region, Ethiopia. East Africa has faced several failed rainy seasons in recent years, starting with the El Niño-induced drought in 2015.
Photo: ©IFAD/FAO/WFP/Michael Tewelde


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Dry weather conditions in March/April are likely to lead to below-average harvests in East Africa even if weather conditions will be more favourable in May.

Severe dryness at the start of the first rainy season in 2019 raises food security concerns for East Africa, according to a Special Alert published by the Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture (GIEWS) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in late April 2019.

The Tropical Cyclone “Idai” redirected precipitations away from East Africa, causing suppressed rainfall in the region during early March and mid-April. The current dry weather conditions compound the impact of the poor October-December rains in 2018.

The dryness has resulted in the delay and disruption of planting operations and has severely impacted crop germination. Crop production is expected to be well below average levels, according to the Special Alert. In pastoral areas, the dry conditions caused the deterioration of already poor rangeland conditions and widespread water shortages, with a significant worsening of animal body condition. 

The worst affected areas are most of Somalia, south-eastern Ethiopia, which did not receive any significant precipitation so far, and northern and eastern Kenya, where some scattered showers were received only in late March.

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