Growing fears over delayed rains in Niger

Children playing football in the rain.

The delayed start of the rainy season has raised a lot of fear among the population in Niger, a country known for having cyclical droughts accompanied with severe food crises after every ten years.

Children playing football in the rain.

The delayed rains have brought the bitter memories of droughts experienced in 1969, 1974, 1984, 1994 and 2004, which greatly destabilized the population.
In Niger, agriculture and livestock keeping, practiced by 90 percent of the rural population, constitute the key drivers of the national economy.
The last farming season in 2014 had already been badly affected by the delayed rains, resulting in a poor harvest.
This year, the delayed rains in most parts of the national territory, and low levels of rains in areas that have received rain, has increased fears of a possibility of a poor agricultural season.
Prayers by various groups have been organized across the country to plead with God to bring the rains.
Unfortunately, the prayers have not been answered, causing fear and leaving the population to speculate on the possible causes of the delayed rains.
“It should not just be about praying, but we should also have a good heart. God is punishing us for being liars,” thought Garba Souley, a trader.
However, according to Katchalou Lawal Gabtchia from the meteorological department, the current situation has been caused by the convergence of several phenomena.
The delay, according to him, has been caused by the warming in the Gulf of Guinea, which has not allowed the monsoon winds to blow further towards northern countries in the Sahel such as Niger, and also due to the thickness of the monsoon.
According to Madam Ousmane Binta who also works in Niger’s meteorological department, the delayed rains which had been forecasted by the department, could also be explained by the weakness of the atmospheric conditions.
She said the population should be patient for a few days in order for heavy rains to fall in the southern parts of the country which are the agricultural zones.
Regarding the total rainfall volume expected this year, Gabtchia explained that there will be a deficit of rainfall due to “abnormal warming in the Pacific.”
To overcome the current challenge of delayed rains, the weather experts urged farmers to change the farming methods and embrace new crops that can mature within a shorter period of time. Enditem

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