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Seasonal Meteorology Outlook Forecasts Lesser Rains for Northern Uganda

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Festus Luoyera (R), the Executive Director Uganda National Meteorological Authority and Deus Bamanya (L) the Director Applied Meteorology Data and Climate Services addressing the press on Friday.
Festus Luoyera (R), the Executive Director Uganda National Meteorological Authority and Deus Bamanya (L) the Director Applied Meteorology Data and Climate Services addressing the press on Friday.

    By: Paul Ampurire

  • Feb 17,2017
  • 322 Viewed

After a long dry spell that has hit several parts of Uganda spanning from mid last year, the government department in charge of meteorology has said that the western region is likely to experience partly heavy and normal rains between February and June.

In its seasonal outlook, the Uganda Nations Meteorological Authority (UNMA) forecasts that “there’s an increased probability for above normal rainfall for western sector of Uganda, normal rainfall for central, Lake Victoria basin, southeastern and central northern Uganda.” The outlook forecasts the weather patterns for the period of March to May 2017.

The unusual dry conditions have had a far reaching socio- economic impact with many people starving due to poor harvests in food crops. The effect of drought on agriculture production has equally affected food prices, inflation rates and reduced Uganda’s exports amid an already slow economic growth.

While the forecast released on Friday may pass as a sign of relief to those in Central and Western Uganda, it sheds a grim picture for the remaining parts of Uganda like Karamoja, Lango and Acholi.

Northern parts of Lira, Alebtong, Kitgum, Agago, Otuke, Pader and Dokolo are expected to receive the onset of normal rainfall around early to mid-April.

“Moderate relaxation of rains is expected around mid-June. Overall, near normal rainfall with tendency to below normal is expected during the season,” Festus Luoyera, the Executive Director Uganda National Meteorological Authority said.

A similar forecast applies to North Eastern region including districts of Katakwi, Moroto, Kotido, Nakapiripirit, Abim and Kaabong which have had dry and drought levels since December. These areas, according to the outlook will get “irregular light rains in late March, thereafter a prolonged dry spell until mid-April when steady rains are expected”.

However, Luboyera noted that this forecast is up to 75% accurate adding that there are chances that slight changes could occur.

The Meteorology Authority defines ‘normal rainfall’ as when the total rainfall is in the range of 75% to 125% of the long term mean of a given area. Below normal rainfall presents high chances of socioeconomic activities in a given area being stressed.

Luboyera said that this forecast will have an impact on various sector majorly agriculture. He advised people in Karamoja and its neighboring districts to use the light rains for early land preparation and plant improved drought tolerant varieties.

“In general, farmers are advised to make use of the seasonal rains by optimizing crop yield through appropriate land use management,” he said.

Agriculturalists are also advised to do water harvesting, pasture preservation for hay, diversification by inter cropping as well as using low cost irrigation.

For parts like Kampala city and other urban centres, there’s a possibility of intense rainfall accompanied by flash flooding. The department has cautioned authorities to take necessary interventions to prevent the negative impacts.

The Central Bank in its February monetary policy statement released on Wednesday indicated that chances of economic growth returning to normal largely depends on the resumption of rains.

Therefore, the forecast of normal and above normal rains in parts of Central Uganda and Western Uganda which are the dominant producers of food crops could be a good signal for the economy.

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