Global Information and Early Warning System

---------------------------------- SAHEL Report no 6, 11 October 1995


This report is prepared under the responsibility of FAO/GIEWS with information from official and unofficial sources. Since conditions may change rapidly, please contact Mr. Abdur Rashid, Chief, Global Information and Early Warning Service GIEWS, FAO - Rome (Telex 610181 FAO I, Fax No. 0039-6-5225-4495 or E-MAIL INTERNET: GIEWS1@FAO.ORG) for further information, if required.

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Precipitation remained well distributed over the main producing areas of the Sahel in early and mid-September. The southwards movement of the rains has started during the third dekad of September. Dry weather prevailed in late September in northeastern Mauritania, the extreme west, central and northern parts of Burkina-Faso and central Chad, which received heavy rains. In The Gambia, precipitation remained also quite abundant. In


In these reports, reference will be made to four different eco-climatic zones based on the average annual precipitation and agricultural features, i.e. Sahelian zone, Sudano-Sahelian zone, Sudanian zone and Guinean zone. They appear on the map and are described below:

Sahelian zone: Where average annual precipitation ranges between 250 and 500 mm. This zone is at the limit of perennial vegetation. In parts where precipitation is less than 350 mm, only pastures and occasional short-cycle drought-resistant cereal crops are grown; all cropping in this zone is subject to high risk.

Sudano-Sahelian zone: Where average annual precipitation ranges from 500 to 900 mm. In those parts of this zone where precipitation is less than 700 mm, crops with a short growing cycle of 90 days are generally cultivated, predominantly sorghum and millet.

Sudanian zone: Where average annual precipitation ranges from 900 to 1 100 mm. In this zone, most cereal crops have a growing cycle of 120 days or more. Most root, cash crops and cereals, notably maize, are grown in this zone.

Guinean zone: Where average annual precipitation exceeds 1 100 mm. Guinea-Bissau and a small area of southern Burkina Faso belong to this zone, more suited to root crop cultivation.

Reference will also be made to the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), also known by its trace on the earth's surface, called the Intertropical Front. The ITCZ is a quasi-permanent zone between two air masses separating the northern and southern hemisphere trade winds. The ITCZ moves north and south of the equator and usually reaches its most northerly position in August. Its position defines the northern limits of possible precipitation in the Sahel; rain-bearing clouds are generally situated 150-200 km south of the Intertropical Front.


This is the sixth GIEWS report of the 1995 season on weather and crop conditions in the Sahelian countries of western Africa. Geographical coverage of these reports include the nine CILSS (Permanent Inter-State Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel) member states: Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chad, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal. Reports are issued at 20-day (two dekad) intervals. The final report for 1995 with the first production estimates will be issued in mid-November. These reports are prepared with data from, and in close collaboration with, out-posted FAO Representatives, the Environmental Information Management Service (Agro-Meteorological Group and Environmental Monitoring Group), the Emergency Centre for Locust Operations (ECLO), the Office for Special Relief Operations (OSRO), the World Food Programme (WFP), as well as various Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).

In this report, FAO/ARTEMIS rainfall estimates, field data on rainfall, FAO agro-meteorological crop monitoring field reports and information provided by FAO Representatives and World Food Program offices up to 10 October have been utilized. The last satellite images up to 9 October have also been utilized for final updating.