Kunene area a concern for meteorological services

27 April 2021 | Disasters

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK



The Kunene Region is highlighted as an area of high concern by the Namibia Meteorological Services, with the region's strong rainfall deficits and sparse vegetation resulting in extremely poor pasture and water resources for livestock.

This is according to first Namibia Seasonal Monitor, which said the 2020/2021 rainfall season in Namibia has shown some contrasting performances across the country.

Another possible area of concern is the Zambezi, where drier than average conditions occurred since late February and long dry spells in March may have caused damage to late planted crops. Meanwhile, southern regions received exceptionally high rains, with some areas receiving two or three times the usual rainfall amounts. In the northeast (Kavango West, Kavango East and Zambezi), rainfall was average to above average throughout the bulk of the season.

“The most significant point is the dryness in the northwest of the country as those regions did not have a good season in over five years, implying a threat to livelihood of the people and survival of the animals.” According to the bulletin, the season started off quite dry for most parts of the country, except in the northeast, but heavy rains in December and January brought improved conditions for crop development and grazing of livestock, except in north-western regions.

“Below average rainfall was again experienced as the rains reduced in February and March, however, spots along coast, the Kavango East and West, eastern Otjozondjupa and Omaheke regions received above normal rains,” it read.

For the month of March, satellite data indicated that the northeast of the country was affected by dry spells ranging for two to three weeks with little to no rain in most places.

“Dryness in the western sector is typical of these regions for the time of the year.” The bulletin said verification of rain gauge data shows that effectively longer than usual dry sequences affected Zambezi in particular. These dry sequences led to a monthly deficit of rainfall of around 30%. “Late planted crops, in particular maize, that might have been still in flowering or early grain formation by early March, would have been hit by the dry conditions, leading to reduction in yields. Crops with normal planting time most likely escaped serious consequences.”

Meanwhile, surface temperatures were cooler than average since the rains have a cooling effect on the ground surface as well as the vegetation. However, the northwest area had warmer temperatures due to poor rainfall and low soil moisture during the season. The Namibia Seasonal Monitor bulletin focuses on seasonal monitoring and early warning and, when necessary, highlights areas of concern. This bulletin will be released monthly with the usual rainfall bulletin.