The dam wall at the Kariba North Bank Power station
The dam wall at the Kariba North Bank Power station

Dark clouds are gathering on the horizon as forecasters predict 2015 could become the hottest year on record.The strongest ever El Niño heat waves were predicted to hit parts of Southern Africa towards the end of 2015 and lasting through to 2016.The 19th Southern African Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF-19), which met in late August in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo predicted that the region is expected to receive insufficient rainfall during the forthcoming agricultural season that runs from October 2015 to March 2016.This climate outlook for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is not a favourable one as the region is already facing numerous challenges.

This comes at a time when the Kariba Dam between Zambia and Zimbabwe is experiencing declining water levels, as water coming out through the turbines is more than inflows into the dam.

Water levels in Lake Kariba have dropped to 41 percent compared with 80 percent this time last year.With expected low rainfall, it is likely to take longer for water levels to be at optimal. As a result, the Zambezi River Authority, which manages the dam on behalf of Zambia and Zimbabwe, has reduced water allocation for power generation at the dam by Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO) and Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA).

Zambia’s new Energy and Water Development Minister Dora Siliya in her facebook page announced that due to low water levels in the Zambezi and Kafue rivers load shedding hours have been increased from 8hours to up to 12 hours.She said the immediate solution was importation of power and that God will hear our prayers and it will rain very soon.

Dear friends,

I was informed by ZESCO last night that the water levels in the Zambezi and Kafue rivers are so low that load management is being affected. In many instances the load shedding has increased from 8 to 10 or 12 hrs. I have ordered ZESCO to be more proactive in releasing information especially relating to the load management schedule. We need to have predictable power supply so we know when we will have power, for how long and when we will not have power.
Clearly the immediate solution is importation of power as we are doing already but also that God will hear our prayers and it will rain soon. …very soon.

 

The strong El Niño of 2015 has contributed to suppressed rainfall over northern East Africa and Central America and the Caribbean , significantly limiting agricultural and pastoral potential, and straining local livelihoods. With El Niño forecast to continue into the first quarter of 2016, suppressed rainfall is likely over many regions during the coming rainy seasons, including in Southern Africa, Central America, and the Caribbean.

As El Niño continues through the first quarter of 2016, the Horn of Africa, Southern Africa, and Central Asia, as well as several other regions, are likely to experience abnormal rainfall patterns. El Niño is associated with reduced October to April rainfall in Southern Africa, a region where maize supply is already well below the five-year average and acute food insecurity is already more severe than usual,

SADC Climate Service Centre Regional Coordinator Bradwell Garanganga said much of SADC is likely to receive normal to below-normal rainfall for the periods October to December 2015 and January to March 2016, adding that “a persistent strong El Niño is also favoured during the bulk of the rainfall season.”

The El Niño effect has been associated with previous drought periods in southern Africa. The phenomenon causes the sea temperature to rise significantly in the Pacific Ocean off South America, and the air becomes dry, affecting the rain-formation process.He noted that only the extreme northern part of SADC and parts of island countries of Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles are expected to receive normal to above-normal rains in the first and second part of the summer season.

“The bulk of the southern tier states of continental SADC is likely to receive normal to below-normal rainfall for the period October to December 2015 and January to March 2016,” Garanganga said in his climate outlook presentation.

He however, said since climate conditions constantly change, users should contact their national meteorological offices for latest interpretation of the outlook, finer details, updates and additional guidance.

With the impending extreme weather conditions, the SADC region should prepare for such natural phenomena.For example, farmers could plant crops that do not take long to mature, and the region should invest more infrastructure development including roads, irrigation and silos.

Improving the transport network and storage facilities will allow agricultural produce to be moved smoothly from one place with surplus to another needing additional food.

“We should invest more in irrigation, conserve dam water, and plant short season varieties,” SARCOF Principal Meteorologist Linear Gopo said.

Most economies in SADC are largely dependent on climate conditions, and any reduction or increase in rainfall often has a negative effect on socio-economic development.For example, Zimbabwe’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) dropped by three percent and eight percent after the 1983 and 1992 droughts respectively.

In South Africa, the 1992 drought induced a reduction of the agricultural GDP by about ZAR 1.2 billion and caused a 0.4 to 1.0 percent loss in economic growth.The same drought cost the Zambian government US$ 300 million and translated into a 39 percent drop in agricultural output and a 2.8 percent decline in the country’s GDP.

Source:Famine Early warning systems network(FEWS NET),Southern African News,FB

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21 COMMENTS

  1. I never trust this weathermen of doom. They forewarned us in East Africa of disastrous el nino rains starting from October to January but as yet this remains a myth. They are just (financial) speculators.

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    • Wow, there is heat in everything in Zambia’s PF: 2016 general elections, increased load shedding, heat in the leadership’s empty heads, heat between Edgar and mine/workers/union leaders, heat in the struggle to keep membership…etc. The weather will only make it worse.

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    • This doesn’t make sense at all. Yalta had promised us that load shedding would ease in Nov as the thermal plant at Mamba would be commissioned. Edgar covet is that of lies in the morning, lies at mid-day and lies in the evening. This is what happens for electing a visionless soul to be president

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    • It is foolishness to ignore warnings and bury our heads in the sand. In the Bible God warned his people of famine and told them to take measures(Joesph in Egypt)..Why do we say prophet of doom and fold our arms even when there is evidence around that water levels in our rivers are low.Government shouldn’t be sitting praying for rain but putting in place measures that can ease the suffering of many in famine.It’s not good enough for Dora Siliya to just saying we praying for rain.Maybe God is saying here will be a famine so start storing food.

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  2. Indeed prophets of doom. What kind of prophet are you. I hope you do not live a life without speculation based on some sort of analysis.
    Good luck Zambia full of doom. what a pity.

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  3. What El-nino? You people haven’t even experienced one sever drought….load-shedding is due to shambolic management in ZESCO and political interference some of these problems would have been mitigated if we planned in advance but to our politicians ZESCO is just a cash cow…we would be in a win-win situation if we also invested in solar power….so how much is this reckless gov’t spending on importation of electricity every month then giving it to the mines at a discount?

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    • Its so difficult to take you (opposition) politicians seriously. All the stuff written in the article and you still ask what el-nino? You and your party whatever it is also what to rule? All SADC nations are grappling with this same issue, find another suitable topic to vent your political anger on.

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    • @ Jtwisy
      Its a rhetorical question…the problem we have is that too many people don’t research and we never learn from the past. We have had worse droughts in the past and we never restored to this load shedding, continue to be lied to. Its not the lazy Lungu who will pay for all this recklessness and importation of electricity it will be passed down to you the consumer irrespective whether you are in the ruling or opposition.
      FYI I don’t support any political party or a member of such grouping…my party is Zambia and its people…during MMD I was called a PF cadre, today I’m a UPND…only when you start viewing issues through unbiased political lenses will you wake up and put the interests of your people first.

      Wake up from your docility and gullibility!!

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  4. Well said @Jay Jay. Soon we will be told God will only answer our 18 October prayers after the Government Church is completed. We live in shambolic times…

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    • Instead of building libraries so our children can study about independence and empowerment…he is wasting millions of kwacha on a church so as people are further brainwashed.

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  5. We are undertaking the largest maize export exercise in Zambias history. Already 300,000 tons (6 million bags) has gone off to Zimbabwe.

    Fellow Zambians, should we be pumping our maize out at low prices when hunger is lurking for us around the corner ?

    We claim we are a christian nation but will not follow the example of Joseph ?

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    • There is no planning in Zambia…your dependence on this grain called maize will be our downfall..I have always championed to diversify from maize meal to other more nutritious foods that are less demanding to produce.

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    • Jay Jay, fact remains we depend on maize. Even regions where they grow rice e.g. Nakonde, Mongu, malambo, they still depend on maize. You cant force us to start eating potatoes which are even more expensive as a staple meal. Cassava needs special skills to prepare or else you will be consuming cyanide like the people of luapula and western provinces. So if you get fits when you eat nshima, thats your problomu

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    • Peter Njobvu

      You said the selfsame thing about dependence on Hydroelectricity…where has that got you? You are paying $100million+ dollars a month to import electricity and you are now panic buying solar panels at hefty rates which we suggested.
      Don’t you know that in west African they eat fresh cassava leaves as there are ways of preparing it to remove the poison…don’t just look for excuses…wake up!

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  6. God is angry with Lungu for appointing Dora. He is denying us rain next year too. Lungu please make Sampa the energy minister. Dora is just fit to be a backbencher

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  7. In 1992 we suffered a severe drought but we never had load shedding . One might argue that then our electricity power usage was low as a nation but this is the more reason why everyone who is level headed is blaming Edgar Lungu and team for going all out increasing consumer base to electricity consumers with out increasing electricity power production

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  8. OOweee, Lungu on top of load shedding, job loses, tumbling kwacha now you have to add starvation as you sold most of our maize reserves and no rain next year.

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  9. Why is that in this country we fail to debate issues and share ideas peacefully? All that comes out prominently is anger hate speech and vulgar language.

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