Many are optimistic as the region is starting to move out of a very devastating drought experience over the past two years. The El Niño event which brought about the drought was the strongest recorded in the region.
According to the World Food Programme (WFP), wetter than average conditions during January to March 2017 are expected over most of the areas affected by the drought. Some relief from the effects of the past two seasons is expected.
The La Niña event that followed El Niño was however very weak and outside what usually happens. The reality of the changes in climatic conditions is upon us already, and we need to brace ourselves for the effects of these changes in the near future.
For the first time, the region’s temperatures are said to have increased by 2°C, twice the global temperature average. The +3°C increases are predicted to start in the 2030s, about 13 years from now.
A presentation by Professor Francois Engelbrecht of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) pointed that these increases and related extreme events are expected to impact agriculture, energy demand and water security.
The presentation was made at Vuna’s (a DFID funded regional agriculture systems programme, implemented by Adam Smith International, working in the East and Southern Africa region) conference on climate change and transformational adaptation in the agricultural sector in east and southern Africa.
He also pointed out that “southern Africa is likely to become generally drier with frequent droughts” and that all models are predicting decreases in soil moisture.