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Drought looms in southern Zimbabwe

by Staff reporter
21 Sep 2023 at 06:11hrs | Views
The Meteorological Services Department (MSD) has issued a weather forecast for the 2023-24 farming season in Zimbabwe, predicting below-normal rainfall in some southern areas, with the possibility of sporadic violent storms and flash floods.

The Matebeleland region and certain parts of Masvingo and the Midlands provinces are expected to be the most affected by low rainfall during the October 2023 to March 2024 rainfall season.

In a statement, the MSD indicated that other regions across Zimbabwe are expected to receive normal to below-normal rainfall for most of the sub-seasons within this period.

The statement from the Met Department reads, "During the 2023/24 summer rainfall season, the three zones (Region 1, Region 2, Region 3) have a higher probability of receiving normal to below-normal rainfall for most of the sub-seasons that make up the period October 2023 to March 2024."

It further notes, "Violent storms, prolonged dry spells, flash floods, and tropical cyclones cannot be ruled out as the season progresses. There is a need to intensify water harvesting and conservation programs. Dam construction and borehole drilling/deepening, conservation, and protection of wetlands should continue."

The sub-season between January, February, and March is expected to have a high chance of receiving normal rainfall with a bias toward below-normal rainfall.

The report also highlights the sporadic nature of the 2023-24 rainfall pattern and suggests initiating an early cloud seeding program to counter the erratic rainfall pattern. It advises that those with irrigation facilities should not wait for the main rains to start planting, and agricultural activities should be guided by 10-day weather forecasts and advice from agricultural authorities.

Additionally, a research report from the Famine Early Warning Systems Network indicates that food stocks from the previous year's harvest are gradually depleting, leading to concerns about food security and the rising cost of living. It mentions that households in certain areas may engage in coping strategies indicative of a crisis as early as August and September. In urban areas, the high cost of living and limited income access are making it difficult for poor households to meet their non-food needs, resulting in stressed outcomes. In rural areas, poor households are engaging in various off-farm activities to earn income.

Source - The Chroncile