aWhere Case Study: Weather Variability in West Africa

aWhere Case Study: Weather Variability in West Africa

Weather Insights

Western African countries have been experiencing extreme weather variability. This region is home to 368 million people, many of whom are smallholder farmers who rely on rainfed agriculture for their livelihoods and who are the most vulnerable to any variation in normal rainfall patterns. The regional map below displays the average precipitation over potential evapotranspiration (P/PET) from May-August from 2006-2019, which is the rainy season for much of the region. P/PET is a key indicator if there is enough moisture to support crops such as maize that requires a P/PET above 0.8. aWhere’s agile analysis on this weather grid enables integration of diverse spatial data sets, such as population (below), to help inform government agencies and decision-makers how best to respond to drought, floods, and erratic weather patterns. Low and variable rainfall in any year can put upwards of 140 million people at risk. Our data and analytics inform investments to deliver economic resilience to West Africa – NOW

~140 million people live in areas characterized by P/PET between 0.6 and 1.2. Key crops such as maize begin to fail when P/PET is less than 0.8.

The analysis of population per aWhere grid cell combined with weather analytics enables prioritization and planning in advance of weather events and impacts over crop production.


Weekly Climate Charts

The map below of precipitation over potential evapotranspiration (P/PET) for July 2019 (left) illustrates how dry much of Côte d’Ivoire and southern Ghana were compared to the long-term average (right). Key crops in these areas such as cacao will be impacted by lower rainfall which will have economic and social impacts for farm families who depend on cacao. NE Nigeria – pocket drought in July 2019.

This series of charts illustrates the extreme variability in rainfall over the past year compared to the long-term normal (here, the last 12 years) in three select locations across the region. There were many weeks with low rainfall while other locations were much wetter than normal. Spatial and temporal variability in rainfall greatly impacts farmers and their willingness to invest in key inputs to increase productivity. aWhere’s content allows users to investigate weather trends from a country or regional level to the farmer level.

Implications and Recommendations

P/PET is a powerful index to quickly understand drought stress for crops. Rainfed agriculture is always at risk of poorly distributed rainfall which is why these analyses are critical for helping inform decisions to adapt to climate change.

With timely insights from aWhere, farmers can take appropriate action, such as crop choice or variety selection, timely planting, fertilizing, harvesting and grain conditioning operations to maximize yield, quality and food safety. Companies can plan market expansion wisely and governments can make infrastructure investments (such as watershed/irrigation management) to reduce the impact of rainfall variability. Contact aWhere for specific recommendations.

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