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Severe drought in Angola


15/07/2013

In 2012, 10 of the 18 provinces of Angola experienced a serious food crisis as a result of drought, which affected 1.8 million people. In 2013 drought is once again affecting the southern and western provinces of Angola, with the province of Cunene, which has a population of more than 300,000, being particularly badly affected for the second year running.

At the request of the EU Delegation in Angola, the JRC prepared a detailed ad-hoc report on seasonal crop monitoring in Angola, which was then distributed to UN agencies, NGOs and Angolan authorities involved in the response to the drought. The JRC-IES runs a global Water Satisfaction Index (WSI) for seven cereal crops based on rainfall estimates. Based on an analysis of the WSI, the report found that the significant regions growing sorghum and millet crops may be subject to crop failure, while the main maize-growing regions only suffered water stress in certain areas in the south, where planting was also slightly delayed. Analysis of satellite observations confirm the effect of rainfall deficits that began as early as November 2012. The report concludes that five provinces in southern Angola are directly affected by a severe rainfall deficit, and suffering severe impacts on agriculture and natural vegetation in April-May 2013 as a result.

Spot VGT NDVI anomaly in April and May 2013 showing the increasing extent of vegetation affected by water stress.

Agriculture, particularly crop production, is the main source of employment in Angola. The main growing season, from September to May, relies on adequate rainfall which has been in scarce supply since 2011. Reports show that rainfall during the 2011-2012 rainy season was 60% below average. Rainfall in the 2012-13 rainy season is also well below average in significant parts of the country, particularly in the southwest on the Namibian border. The drier-than-normal conditions in the southern provinces of Angola are reflected in the vegetation index, which shows that vegetation was increasingly affected by water stress in April and May 2013.

The report was very well received and praised for its usefulness in helping Angolan authorities and emergency/development operators to better target their field assessments, saving a considerable amount of money and time. A similar report is now under preparation for Namibia, which is also experiencing crop failure and livestock deaths as a result of prolonged drought.

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