Publication Date April 12, 2017

Rainy Season Starting Late for Dire Somalia Drought Areas

 A boy looks at dead goats in a dry land close to Dhahar in Puntland, northeastern Somalia, on December 15, 2016. Drought in the region has severely affected livestock for local herdsmen. Photo: Abdi Waham, AFP, Getty Images

Climate change blamed for making the drought worse


A December 2016 study by Funk et al. found that the human-caused climate change was likely responsible for a 16% reduction in rainfall during the 2015 Ethiopian drought. No specific attribution studies have been done for the current drought in Somalia, which is immediately adjacent to Kenya and Ethiopia.

According to a 2015 Science Advances paper by Tierney et al., Past and future rainfall in the Horn of Africa, over the past 30 years, East Africa has experienced a persistent decline in rainfall during the “long rains” season. Using sediment cores from the nearby Gulf of Aden, they showed that this 30-year drought was unusual compared to conditions from the past 2,000 years. Since the current drought occurred in the presence of global and regional warming, the authors concluded the drought may be partially due to human-caused global warming.