The map below shows the 7days accumulated rainfall forecast by the NOAA-GFS model (18 Feb 2021-24 Feb 2021), available at https://onehealth.trimweb.it/. According to the GFS model, there is an increasing chance of rainfall especially over the areas closer to Lake Turkana, by Sunday 21st through Thursday 23rd of February 2021.
It should be noted that the coarse resolution of the GFS model and the lack of ground-weather observations integrated into the model, affect the accuracy and reliability of the forecast for the North_Horr Sub-County. Therefore, this forecast should be used just as an indication of a potential increase of chance of rainfall for the area and a preparedness message to good or potential bad impacts of rainfall, including decreasing in temperature and wind/dust storms. Very high temperatures and severe dust storms have been reported by the Community Health Volunteer of Dukana. Local experts relate these signs either to potential drought or to the start of the rain season.
According to local climatology, the rain season should start by beginning of March, however; new moon was spotted on 11th of February 2021, indicating the onset of Soom d’eera month which is related with the start of the rains and with Sorio celebrations. Discussions with local leaders and elders Kalacha on February 19, 2021 revealed that local predictions from traditionalists indicates that rains are due from February 19 through February 26. The expected rains however are low.
For the past one and quarter years, OHP through the manual weather stations installed in 8 health facilities in North horr has been monitoring weather conditions and comparing the same with long-term averages. The table below shows the rainfall amounts recorded at North horr health centre versus the climate baseline for North-Horr starting October 2019.
The table indicates below normal rains received during the short rains season 2020 and this is bound to have considerable consequences to lives and livelihoods of Pastoralist. OH data collectors who are also Community Health Volunteers and Community Disease Reporters are currently reporting a number of hazards: Pasture scarcity, water scarcity, migrations, locust invasion, animal disease incidences animal deaths from contaminated water and dusts and windstorms which are related to the low amount of rainfall received during the last rain season.
An analysis of the past three years rainfall using NASA-GPM rainfall estimates show similarities between 2018 short rain season and 2020 short rain season.
Currently the OH project staffs are conducting some participatory discussions with community leaders to reflect on similarities of the rainfall received in 2018 and 2020 short rain season, impacts and decisions taken in January and February 2019 and potential prevention and preparedness actions that might be taken now. Some of the similarities being pointed out by communities during January-March 2019 in the aftermath the short 2018 season and January-February 2021 include situations characterised by acute water and pasture scarcities, animals walking 3-4 days to access water, poor livestock body conditions, lack of markets for animals, livestock diseases, losses from animal deaths, resource based conflicts, household food insecurity and malnutrition. According to the community, the conditions are expected to be worse. Then, the community depended largely on government and non-state actor relief, water trucking by the government and NGOs, reduction in number of household meals while some undertook destocking to wade through the drought conditions. The community blamed relief for lack of preparedness and dependence among communities. Presently, there exists skepticism regarding response with conditions worsening but the government not responding; the only relief from government is through HSNP. Other stakeholders are responding on small scale.
We will keep supporting rainfall observations and forecasting at community level.
This analysis is produced in the framework of the One Health project: Multidisciplinary approach to promote the health and resilience of pastoralist in North Kenya – AID11507. It is a 3-year initiative funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, aimed at improving the access and coordination of human and animal health services and of early warning and response systems to dangerous events that could put the pastoralist communities' health in North Horr Sub-County at risk. The project is led by CCM-Comitato Collaborazione Medica in partnership with VSF Germany - Veterinarians without Borders Germany, TriM - Translate into Meaning, and DIST - Interuniversity Department of Regional and Urban Studies and Planning.