Useful tips in preparation for El NINO

Are you ready?

As the El Nino season approaches Southern Africa, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential impacts it may have on gardening and landscaping. The region has a history of experiencing high temperatures and droughts during this season, and with only three months left until it starts in November, it’s important to take preventative measures. Mr. Dlamini from Mr. Sigudla explains that the severity of the impacts depends on the duration of the event, especially if it occurs in two consecutive seasons.

The National Disaster Management Agency has issued four key areas that the country needs to focus on in preparation for the predicted drought that might hit next summer. According to an advisory note that was issued by the agency for this month, the key areas that the government and stakeholders need to focus on are governance and coordination, agriculture and food security, water management, and household protection.

The early warning comes after the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) El Niño /La Nina update pointed to the increasing likelihood of El Niño developing later in 2023, which was also confirmed by Eswatini Meteorology Service (EMS) stated the advisory note.

Worth noting, that El Niño would come after La Niña, which prevailed for the last three consecutive years resulting in relatively wet summer conditions in Eswatini, and is believed to have come to an end and the tropical Pacific is currently in an ENSO-neutral state. Expert assessments based on WMO Global Production Centre’s forecast, suggest a 60 percent chance for a transition from ENSO-neutral to El Niño during May-July 2023, increasing to about 70 percent in June-August and 80 percent between July and September 2023.

The agency went on to state that while El Niño’s had occurred in the past years, there was increasing evidence that they were becoming more frequent and stronger, leading to extreme weather events, making it more critical to take early actions to reduce and mitigate associated impacts.

“Weather prediction science has advanced in recent years but weather is still a natural phenomenon that is not easy to accurately predict. Recommendations by NDMA are to help reduce the impact of drought in the event it occurs. Once drought is declared an emergency, it is already too late for preparedness and the cost of response would escalate.”

The key areas of focus:

The stock of staple maize grain and pulses before prize escalation. Immediate production, acquisition, and storage of hay bales and livestock feed. Institute strict control to prevent the burning of grass in winter and during the entire El Niño period. Advisory to farmers to consider keeping younger stock and disposal of older cattle which may not survive harsher environmental conditions. Stagger crops during the planting season and plant drought-tolerant and open-pollinated varieties.

Water Management

Maximise water harvesting and conservation from winter rainfall. River basin authorities to closely monitor river flows and dam levels and communicate risk levels. River basin authorities to consider planning for early water rationing at the onset of drought and before dams reach 70 percent capacity. Institute maintenance for efficient water reticulation ensuring there are no leaks and wastage. Companies involved in irrigation and potable water reticulation to activate internal drought management procedures.

Fig:1.1 Drying dam

Household Protection

Practice water conservation measures and prevent water wastage at the household level. Keep most of this year’s grain harvest, prevent wastage, and conserve it for the leaner year. Secure grazing land and protect it from uncontrolled burning and overgrazing. Increase household savings for use during the lean period. Maintain additional reservoirs for domestic purposes.

By December, we should have a better idea of what to expect in 2024. It’s important to stay updated on the forecasts and take necessary precautions, to prepare for El Nino’s potential impact on your garden and landscape.

With these tips, gardeners and landscapers can overcome the challenges posed by El Nino and maintain a healthy and flourishing garden and landscape throughout the season. Stay informed, stay prepared, and enjoy a successful growing season.

Source: Planning For El Niño: Gardening and Landscaping Tips

Source: PressReader: Times of Eswatini