Skip to main content

Harvest Partners at NASA Goddard and UCSB CHC Collaborate on FEWS NET Eastern Africa Special Report

satellite imagery

A cooperative effort between the Famine for Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) team with the support of the Climate Hazards Center (CHC) and NASA Goddard scientists led to the release of a special report focused on rainfall conditions in Eastern Africa at the end of January, 2020. The report details 2019 October to December precipitation in the region, which proved among the wettest seasons recorded in the last 40 years. Our Harvest partners found that the excessive rainfall resulted in flooding throughout the region which displaced many thousands of people and directly affected a total of 3.4 million people. Additionally, this flooding caused crop failure and loss of livestock in the most highly-affected farmlands.


satellite imagery
1982-2018 comparisons of average days of >90% soil saturation (left) and total streamflow aggregated to Pfafstetter level 6 watersheds (right).


The Northern Horn of Africa has previously experienced severe drought during the 2016-2019 rains seasons, thus many households were recovering from food loss at the time of the rainfall season this year. Under usual circumstances, the above-average rainfall would have provided relief and improved food security due to an increase in crop production and improved availability of food for livestock. 


However, this was not the case with the excessive rainfall this season which had negative short-term impacts on the region due to lack of access to food which delayed the anticipated recovery timeline, resulting in increased food assistance needs. The flooding led to cut-off trade routes, crop market delays, increased food prices, and postponed short-term crop planting. The FEWS NET team took a retrospective look at the forecasting systems and communication networks that were successful this season and could be better employed for future guidance to decision makers in this region. 


Read the full report to better understand the effects of drought and excessive rainfall as well as suggestions for improved crop monitoring moving forward.

News Date
Feb 18, 2020
Amy McNally, Greg Husak, Mary Mitkish