Major rivers in Africa ran drier than usual in 2021, finds WMO

Water levels in Lake Victoria have been on the rise since October 2019 and have been at unprecedented heights due to climate change. Photo: Wikimedia Commons Water ranges in Lake Victoria have been on the rise since October 2019 and have been at unprecedented heights on account of local weather change. Photograph: Wikimedia Commons

The amount of water in Africa’s main rivers decreased in 2021 in comparison with the common within the final twenty years, in line with a brand new report by a United Nations physique. The water storage ranges within the river basins, nonetheless, have gone up since 2002, an anomaly in comparison with the remainder of the world, mentioned the World Meteorological Group (WMO). 

The water discharge of Niger, Volta, Nile and Congo rivers in 2021 was lower than the common calculated from 2002-2020,  mentioned the first State of Global Water Resources report printed November 29, 2022.

The water storage ranges, also referred to as terrestrial water storage (TWS), in these river basins have regularly elevated since 2002. The best enchancment was noticed within the Congo and Nile river basins.

Learn extra: Water, Africa’s Gold: Kenya’s urban slums need water, even as lakes Victoria, Turkana in trouble

The water storage in southern African river basins of Zambezi and Orange had been above the conventional, the report mentioned. 

These observations appear optimistic, however these river basins could witness an increase in temperature because of local weather change, as a study warned recently. Most of this optimistic development or enhance has additionally resulted from a rise in TWS in a couple of hotspots, for instance, within the Lake Victoria area.

TWS was ‘above regular’ and ‘a lot above regular’ in central Africa and ‘beneath regular’ and ‘a lot beneath regular’ in North Africa and Madagascar

The pilot report is restricted to streamflow circumstances, terrestrial water storage in addition to the essential position and vulnerability of the cryosphere (snow and ice cowl).   

TWS has gone down in all different continents apart from Africa from 2002-2021, the report discovered. However the development in different elements of the continent may present a special path, it flagged. 

Continent-wise terrestrial water storage in centimetres for the years 2002–2021


However, this doesn’t sound good for the continent. Water ranges in Lake Victoria have been on the rise since October 2019 and have been at unprecedented heights. 

In Kenya, the floods in 2020 displaced a minimum of 800,000 individuals. The flooded rivers had diverted large volumes of water into Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake.

In June 2021, the lake was on the highest ranges noticed in many years on account of long-lasting, intense rainfall, confirmed the developments revealed by United States’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration

The rise in water storage in Lake Victoria on account of intense rains have been attributed to climate change

Knowledge gaps wants addressal

The report was printed at a time when local weather change is affecting the river circulation regime and water storage of essential rivers in Africa. It was launched in response to the decision for correct water knowledge and knowledge to information discussions.  

Learn extra: CSE and NEMC release roadmap on how to clean Lake Victoria

Petteri Taalas, secretary-general, WMO mentioned:

It is a vital milestone alongside the highway to the United Nations 2023 Water Convention.

However, WMO acknowledged the dearth of well timed accessibility and availability of verified hydrological knowledge as a key problem. For instance, simply 57 per cent (eight out of 14) of African WMO member nations monitor river discharge. 

Within the Horn of Africa, drought has been listed among the many high-impact excessive occasions. This contradicts the continental TWS enhance on the pan-African scale, identified the report.

This underscores the necessity for native assessments, as present massive native and sub-regional variability in adjustments can’t be associated to continental developments, it mentioned.


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