Low rains forecast in summer

SHARE   |   Monday, 14 September 2015   |   By Othusitse Tlhobogang

As the Department of Metrological Services announces possibilities of low rains in the coming rain season, farmers urged government to be proactive in coming up with relieve measures. Farmers are complaining that government always take too long to help them which lead to livestock losses due to droughts. 

Speaking after the presentation of the seasonal rainfall outlook for 2015/2016 on Friday one of the farmers Kgasane Tsele pointed out that government wait until it is too late to help farmers. Tsele said the just released forecast spell doom for farmers especially subsistence farmers.

Botswana is currently going a rough time of shortage of water and many hoped the coming season would help alleviate the situation. This may however not be the case with the predictions put forward by the Department of Metrological Services. When presenting this year’s seasonal rainfall outlook Senior Meteorologist Esther Jensen revealed that the country will experience a deficit in rainfalls compared to the last season.

According to the weather forecast has concluded that during the months of October, November and December 2015 the northern parts of the country are expected to receive below normal to normal rains. On the other hand the southern parts are expected to receive normal to below-normal rains. The outlook further indicates that the two areas will experience moderately dry and extremely dry conditions respectively in the period of November, December to January.

For the period from December to February normal to above normal rains are expected in the northern parts (Chobe and Ngamiland) while the west (Gantsi & Kgalagadi) will receive normal to below normal rains. The remaining areas are expected to receive below normal to normal rains.

The last part of the rain season which is from January to March the forecast indicates a further decrease in rains with the Southeast, Kgatleng, Kweneng, eastern Gansti and western Ngamiland receive below normal to normal rains. The rest of the country will receive normal to below normal rainfalls. Jensen alluded that the country will generally experience dry conditions in the coming rain season.
In an interview with this publication Tsele said this situation is worrisome for farmers, especially subsistence ones as they could end up losing most of their livestock.

He said as small scale farmers they are the ones hard hit by the effects of drought because relief help comes very late. “Such forecasts must be used to inform government on the decision to declare drought well in time,” said Tsele. He however, advised fellow farmers to come up with strategies of trying to save their livestock in these try seasons. Tsele said the forecast does not mean it is not going to rain at all urging farmers to consider using the first rains to plough fodder for their animals. “Since the rain will come and go quickly before crops are ripe we must consider growing crops that mature early and use them to feed our livestock while waiting for government’s help,” he said. The farmer complained that even though a drought has been declared and it takes time to implement the resolutions while they farmers suffer. He called for speed implementations of these programmes in future. 

The situation will not be helped by the fact that the department is also expecting El Nino to be experienced in the southern hemisphere. “There is a greater than 90% chance that El Nino will continue through the southern hemisphere summer and around 85% chance it will last into early autumn 2016,” said Jensen.

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Thabang Bosoma however explained that the El Nino is not the only fact that determines rainfall so Batswana should not be scared. “It is expected that the strong El Nino conditions will have influence on the weather and climate system over Botswana. This however is not the only influencing factor as there are others like presence of tropical cyclones in the Indian Ocean,” clarified Bosoma. He explained that normally with these cyclones moving nearer to Africa Botswana also get high rains especially the eastern parts of the country.