Examining intra-seasonal rainfall characteristics over western Uganda during September - December (sond) season.
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Western Uganda is a region of high potential for both subsistence and commercial farming during the September to December (SOND) rainfall season. The study aimed at examining intra-seasonal rainfall characteristics over western Uganda. The objectives of this study were to; (i) examine variations in rainfall onset and cessation dates for western Uganda, (ii) determine the growing season length (GSL) over western Uganda and (iii) determine the nature of dry spells during the September - December rainfall season in western Uganda. This study used secondary daily rainfall data for a period of 10 years (2001-2010) obtained from Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA) from four synoptic meteorological stations namely; Mbarara, Kasese, Masindi and Kabale. These stations serve as representative stations of the region’s rainfall homogeneous zones. In order to examine intra-seasonal rainfall characteristics (onset, cessation, dry spells and growing season length), Instat statistical software was used. The study revealed that on average, rains during the SOND season start on 27th August (which is an early onset), and stop on 2nd December (normal cessation) with a growing season of 98 days, therefore crops with a growing season length of 120 days or less should be grown in this rainy season (SOND) to minimize losses and maximize profits from agriculture. The results from trend analysis showed an increasing trend in the onset (late onset), a decreasing trend in the cessation (early cessation) and the GSL trend was also decreasing. Significant dry spells of length 10 days or more were observed to be common in September, October and December. Therefore for realization of better yields, farmers should be well prepared in September and October with alternative measures like water harvesting and irrigation measures in case a long dry spell occurs after the sowing date and the dry spells in December can be used for harvesting. The study recommends that more studies with longer and updated daily rainfall should be done to further monitoring the trend of onset, cessation and the growing season length and establish changes in seasonal rainfall characteristics of Uganda. This will help develop evidence on climate change and if it is found out that the trend of the GSL continues to decrease then special attention should be put to climate change, its impacts, and adaptation and mitigation measures.