Climate experts drawn from all 15 SADC member-states are expected to meet this month to generate a comprehensive regional weather forecast for the 2017-18 cropping season.
In a statement, the SADC Climate Services Centre (CSC) said the 21st annual Southern African Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF – 21) will be held from August 23 to 25 this year in Gaborone, Botswana.
The forum was being convened in preparation for the issuing of the climate early warning statement for the upcoming rainfall season.
SADC climate experts were also expected to rigorously analyse climate data and come up with a season forecast for the coming cropping season. Zimbabwe hosted the 20th Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF) conference last August.
After analysing climate data, climate experts will then draw up a seasonal forecast which is expected to be issued out by the SADC Climate Services Centre at the forthcoming main SARCOF conference.
Climate experts from all SADC countries usually meet every year to analyse climate data and share the information with all – weather scientists and user communities.
The forecast for the 2016–2017 cropping season was largely accurate as predicted. It saw the weather shifting from the dreaded warmer-than-average weather pattern – El Niño – which caused a devastating drought in the entire sub-region in the 2015-16 season to La Nina characterised by better rainfall and climate conditions in the 2016-17 season.
In the last season, most SADC countries received normal to above-normal rainfall, bringing relief to this region which relies heavily on rain-fed agriculture.
The bulk of SADC received normal to above-normal rainfall for most of the period October to December 2016 and the January to March 2017, while northernmost Democratic Republic of Congo, northern Angola, southernmost of Tanzania, northern Mozambique, the islands states of Seychelles and eastern-most Madagascar got normal to below-normal rainfall most of the season.
In the 2015-16 period, SADC member States declared the El-Nino-induced drought a regional disaster, paving the way for donor agencies who mobilised more than US$2,8 billion for food aid for millions of people facing hunger.