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Kenya Meteorological Department predicts rains towards end of year

By Otiato Guguyu | Published Wed, August 30th 2017 at 00:00, Updated August 30th 2017 at 00:04 GMT +3
Lydiah Mukami a trader at Kianwgaci Market Center in Ndia Constituency, Kirinyaga County arranges her varieties. PHOTO KIBATA KIHU/STANDARD.

In summary

  • The country is yet to recover from the prolonged drought that dragged on from last year
  • The Kenya Meteorological Department predicts heavy short rains going into the tail end of the year
  • Improved rains expected to boost food production, lowering spiraling cost of living

The Kenya Meteorological Department predicts heavy short rains going into the tail end of the year in what is expected to help lower the cost of living for a majority of Kenyans.

Fuller hydroelectric dams and increased food production will significantly reduce the prices of electricity and food, key contributors to a spike in the overall inflation that hit the double digits three months ago.

The May Consumer Price Index of 11.7 per cent was mainly driven by food inflation, especially after a major drought that extended into the better part of this year saw the price of a 2kg maize flour packet skyrocket to Sh160 before tapering on Government subsidies to 7.47 per cent in July.

Low water levels at the country’s major hydroelectricity generating dams also forced the country to rely more on thermal energy, whose generation went up by 142 per cent in a year while hydro power usage dipped 47 per cent between June 2017 and 2016.

“Surface water run-offs may register average to above-average inflows into rivers Sondu Miriu, Tana and Athi. This is expected to increase the water levels in dams and improve the capacity for hydroelectric power generation in the hydropower dams,” said Director of Meteorological Services Peter Ambenje said in a statement.

He said a natural phenomenon off the coast of Australia and East Africa known as a positive Indian Ocean Dipole would give Kenya more than anticipated rainfall in the next three months.

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Also known as the Indian nino, the rains will be driven by warmer-than-average Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) over the western Equatorial Indian Ocean (adjacent to the East African coastline) coupled with cooler-than-average SSTs over the eastern Equatorial Indian Ocean (adjacent to Australia).

The weatherman expects the rains to hit parts of Western Kenya next month followed by South Rift, North Eastern and the Coast in the second week of October and parts of Turkana and Narok towards the end of October.

“The distribution of the rainfall in time and space is expected to be generally good over most places, especially during October and the peak month of November,” said Mr Ambenje. He said farmers should take advantage of the rains because they may not last past December.

“Generally dry conditions are likely to prevail over much of the country for most of December. The early cessation expected in some agricultural areas is likely to interfere with crop development before maturing,” said Mr Ambenje.

The country is yet to recover from the prolonged drought and is still grappling with delayed and inadequate harvests from the grain basket region of the North Rift.