ZIMBABWE is likely to be revisited by the El Niño weather phenomenon which causes floods, droughts and heatwaves, a recent report has revealed.
El Niño is a natural climate pattern occurring every few years when the Pacific Ocean warms up.
This can lead to a change in weather patterns around the world, including droughts in some areas and floods in others.
The phenomenon has wreaked havoc in Zimbabwe over the years, triggering both floods and droughts.
According to a report titled El Niño in Southern Africa, El Niño is expected to cause below-average rainfall and above-average temperatures leading to heatwaves.
The report said El Niño was likely to persist until February 2024.
“Zimbabwe is a country that requires close monitoring and where the effects of El Niño may lead to negative outcomes or generate humanitarian needs. Forecast models anticipate the possibility of below-average rainfall towards the end of 2023,” the report read.
“Such forecasts would affect the region’s planting seasons, increasing the possibility of hardened drought conditions and affecting the country’s crop production, livestock and food security.
“This forecast would pattern with previous El Niño events in Zimbabwe.
“In 2015-16, an El Niño-driven drought affected most of Zimbabwe. Below-average rainfall during the usual growing season led to crop failure, increased food prices, and heightened levels of food insecurity throughout the country.”
Other affected southern African countries include Zambia, Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Mozambique and Madagascar.
“These countries require close monitoring as seasonal rainfall outlooks may change in September, and more countries in the region may experience below-normal rainfall towards the end of the year,” the report said.
“While El Niño duration and intensity remain uncertain, models show that the event is more than 90% likely to persist until February 2024, with an 84% chance of exceeding moderate strength.”
In 2016, Zimbabwe declared a “state of disaster” following a drought triggered by the El Niño phenomenon.
The El Niño threat comes as Zimbabwe plans to export 40 000 tonnes of maize to Rwanda after recording a surplus, the first time it has done so in 22 years.