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El Niño

El Niño

An El Niño event during September 2018‒April 2019 is likely to result in above-average rainfall conditions in the Horn of Africa. Rainfall is already forecast to be above-average in Somalia and northeastern Kenya ‒ the areas most affected by floods following abundant rains in March–June 2018, increasing the risk of a second season of flooding. This could cause crop losses in riverine and lowland areas, resulting in significant needs for assistance.

Historically, El Niño has been associated with below-average rainfall in the Southern Africa region, particularly between October and December, when summer cereals are planted. An El Niño event could contribute to lower levels of planting and weeding as well as moisture stress and poor crop development thus damaging the 2019 main harvest. Reduced rainfall could also result in lower availability of agricultural labour for poor households, who rely on this source of income during the lean season that typically runs from November through March.

Fall armyworm infestations are more likely in dry conditions, which could result in heightened risk for the Southern Africa region over the coming months.

El Niño is typically associated with below-average rainfall in Central America, particularly in the area of the Dry Corridor. An El Niño event could exacerbate existing dry conditions, and result in delays in plantings and vegetative development of basic grains of the postrera season with planting starting in September and harvest in November. This could result in a more pronounced 2019 lean season (usually between April and August).

In the Pacific region, El Niño generally triggers drought and above-normal cyclone activity, which can occur concurrently. Below-average rainfall can impact both the Northern and Southern Pacific. In the Northern Pacific (Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau), this event usually coincides with the dry season (December‒April) and can obstruct access to fresh drinking water or harm key crops that rely on rainfed mechanisms. While the Southern Pacific enters into its rainy season (October-April), below-average rainfall is also a typical consequence of El Niño in the area, particularly for Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.

An El Niño event is also likely to result in dry spells in southern India, areas of South-East Asia, as well as the northwestern part of South America. El Niño is also likely to drive above-average wet conditions in Central Asia, parts of South America and the Gulf of Mexico.

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