Last week the Nigeria Meteorological Agency presented its Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP) containing rainfall pattern and temperature outlook for the year, as well as the possible socio-economic implications of the projected weather patterns. The prediction indicated that in 2016, the rainy season will be characterised by “late on-set, early cessation and lower-than-normal rainfall in many parts of the country, especially in the northernmost parts.” It also said that dry spells during the rainy season may be more frequent and severe in many parts of the north, while the ‘little dry season’ or August break in parts of the south are expected to be pronounced.
“It is necessary to state that the expected lower-than-normal rainfall in parts of the country does not rule out the possibility of isolated flash floods due to high intensity rainfall at the peak of the season, especially in places that are naturally prone to flooding,” the SRP with the theme, “The Impact of Weather Variability and Climate Change on Transportation Infrastructure and Agriculture” stated. Dr Anthony Anuforom, NiMET’s Director General said during the launch of the prediction that there are risk factors for farmers in the affected areas especially in the north and that these factors have to be carefully and scientifically managed.
In the last four years NiMeT had been issuing the annual rainfall prediction and it is on record that the 2012 flood that took the country unawares was predicted by NiMeT but nobody followed up or took precaution. This year, the agency had gone ahead to present the socio-economic implications of the SRP for the various key sectors to guide government, farmers and the organised private sector operators throughout the year. For Agriculture, the SRP predicted late onset of rains in and around Sokoto, Zamfara, Kaduna, Borno and Adamawa, a situation that will create water stress during the beginning of the cropping season. The agency therefore advised the use of irrigation.
NiMet’s warning of less-than-normal rainfall must be taken seriously by all stakeholders. The predicted dry year is attributed to the effects of strong El Nino that has persisted since 2015. The Agency notes that of particular concern is the fact that the dry spell may set in from May to June/July of this year, when farmers will likely have planted their crops. If not well managed, this could result in crop failure.