By Abdoulie Nget
Report from the Department of Water Resources and the National Meteorological Services of the Gambia have it that the 2011 rainfall onset which is expected to be between 23 June and 8 July, will be more than the normal rain, but lesser than last year’s massive rains.
Last year’s massive rains have led to the destruction of buildings among other damages across the length and breadth of the country, but Peter Gibba, a senior mythologist said that the 2011 rainfall season is expected to see more variability than the 2010 season with events like late onset, early withdrawals and wet/dry spells.
According to the forecast release by the Department of Water Resources and the National Meteorological Services, the coming July-August-September (JAS) period, the expected rainfall values would be Above Normal (most likely) to Near-normal (likely).
Meanwhile, considerable variations in the amount of rainfall would be experienced over places in the country, with parts of Central River Region expected to receive around 600mm to 670mm. The Western Regions (including Kanifing Municipality and Banjul), receiving more than 820mm and elsewhere between 670 and 820mm during the JAS period.
The predicted normal rainfall should serve as an alert to the National Disaster Management Agency, NDMA as it is predicted that it may lead to flooding, particularly over the NBR, URR, WRR and the Greater Banjul Area (GBA), physical damage to crops in the field, to agricultural equipment and structures, as well as physical damages to infrastructure, roads, telecommunication networks etc. Also, loss of lives and displacement of large population due to disruption of agricultural activities as a result of extreme weather is very likely.
The expected normal rains will change the temperature level of the country in most part of the country which may increase the incidences of malaria and other related disease as a result of high temperature and high relative humidity above 60 percent rainfall.
The probable rains will affect both the livestock, Coastal and Maritime Sectors Hydrology and water resources management and the transports sector among others negatively.
Above all the hindrance that may affect the people due to the predicted rainfall, farming is highly encouraged as the amount of rainfall expected over most parts of the country should be sufficient to favour agricultural production. Therefore farmers are advice to plant immediately the predicted dates of rainfall onset are achieved which fall between 23 June and 8 July.
In an agrarian economy like the Gambia, where rain fed-agriculture is predominant, rainfall onset for the commencement of farming season is curtail. It affects establishment of crops, agricultural production and subsequently, national economies. Failure in the timely establishment of rainfall onset usually affects farmers. It is essential that, after a given date, the rain will become fairly continuous and sufficient to provide adequate soil moisture for and after planting is maintained as the season advances for successful establishment of crops.
The late arrival of rainfall associated with monsoon is more likely than climatology over parts of western West Africa (Between Senegal and Liberia) and western Sahel.