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Water shortages in dry seasons

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Water is one of several current and future critical issues facing Africa. Water supplies from rivers, lakes and rainfall are characterized by their unequal natural geographical distribution and accessibility, and unsustainable water use. Climate change has the potential to impose additional pressures on water availability and accessibility.

 

Very dry conditions were experienced from the 1970s to the 1990s, after a wetter period in the 1950s and 1960s. The rainfall deficit was mainly related to a reduction in the number of significant rainfall events occurring during the peak monsoon period (July to September) and during the first rainy season south of about 9°N. The decreasing rainfall and devastating droughts in the Sahel region during the last three decades of the 20th century are among the largest climate changes anywhere.

 

Sahel rainfall reached a minimum after the 1982/83 El Niño event. Modeling studies suggest that Sahel rainfall has been influenced more by large-scale climate variations (Possibly linked to changes in anthropogenic aerosols), than by local land-use change. Currently dry conditions experienced in Eastern Africa, Somalia and Kenya in particular have engendered acute water shortage resulting in famine.

 

This episode will examine the problem of water shortages in a continent which possesses more water bodies than anywhere else, but which also often endures extreme environmental hardships owing to long spells of dry season and poor rainfall.

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