Time series analysis of precipitation and vegetation to detect food production anomalies in the Horn of Africa. The case of Lower Shabelle (Somalia)


  • M. A. Belenguer-Plomer University of Valencia




NDVI, drought, Horn of Africa, MODIS, TAMSAT


The Horn of Africa is one of the most food-insecure locations around the world due to the continuous increase of its population and the practice of the subsistence agriculture. This causes that much of the population cannot take the minimum nutritional needs for a healthy life. Moreover, this situation of food vulnerability may be seriously affected in the coming years due to the effects of climate change. The aim of this work is combine the information about the state of the vegetation that offers the NDVI with rainfall data to detect negative anomalies in food production. This work has been used the monthly products of NDVI MOD13A3 of MODIS and the rainfall estimation product TAMSAT, both during the period 2001-2015. With these products we have calculated the average of the entire time period selected and we have detected the years whose NDVI values were further away from the average, being these 2010, 2011 and 2014. Once detected the years with major anomalies in NDVI, there has been an exclusive monthly analysis of those years, where we have analysed the relationships between the value of NDVI and monthly rainfall, obtaining a direct relationship between the two values. It also has been used crop calendar to focus the analysis in the months of agricultural production and finding that the main cause of anomalies in vegetation is a decrease in the registration of rainfall during the months of agricultural production. This reason explains the origin of the food shortages that occurred in 2010 and 2011 that generated an enormous humanitarian crisis in this area.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

M. A. Belenguer-Plomer, University of Valencia

Departamento de Geografía


Barrett, C. B. 2010. Measuring food insecurity. Science, 327(5967), 825-828. http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/ science.1182768

Boschetti, M., Nutini, F., Brivio, P. A., Bartholomé, E., Stroppiana, D., Hoscilo, A. 2013. Identification of environmental anomaly hot spots in West Africa from time series of NDVI and rainfall. ISPRS journal of photogrammetry and remote sensing, 78, 26-40. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.isprsjprs.2013.01.003

Conway, D., Persechino, A., Ardoin-Bardin, S., Hamandawana, H., Dieulin, C., Mahé, G. 2009. Rainfall and water resources variability in sub- Saharan Africa during the twentieth century. Journal of Hydrometeorology, 10(1), 41-59. http://dx.doi. org/10.1175/2008JHM1004.1

Dutra, E., Magnusson, L., Wetterhall, F., Cloke, H. L., Balsamo, G., Boussetta, S., Pappenberger, F. 2013. The 2010–2011 drought in the Horn of Africa in ECMWF reanalysis and seasonal forecast products. International Journal of Climatology, 33(7), 1720- 1729. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/joc.3545

El-Affendi, A. 2009. The perils of regionalism: regional integration as a source of instability in the Horn of Africa? Jornal of Intervention and Statebuilding, 3(1), 1-19. http://dx.doi. org/10.1080/17502970802608118

Flintan, F., Behnke, R., Neely, C. 2013. Natural resource management in the drylands in the Horn of Africa. Brief prepared by a Technical Consortium hosted by CGIAR in partnership with the FAO Investment Centre, Technical Consortium Brief, 1.

Gebrehiwot, T., Van der Veen, A., Maathuis, B. 2016. Governing agricultural drought: Monitoring using the vegetation condition index. Ethiopian Journal of Environmental Studies and Management, 9(3), 354- 371. http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/ejesm.v9i3.9

Haile, M. 2005. Weather patterns, food security and humanitarian response in sub-Saharan Africa. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 360(1463), 2169- 2182. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2005.1746

Huete, A., Justice, C., Van Leeuwen, W. 1999. MODIS vegetation index (MOD13). Algorithm theoretical basis document, 3, 213.

Kassahun, A., Snyman, H. A., Smit, G. N. 2008. Impact of rangeland degradation on the pastoral production systems, livelihoods and perceptions of the Somali pastoralists in Eastern Ethiopia. Journal of Arid Environments, 72(7), 1265-1281. http://dx.doi. org/10.1016/j.jaridenv.2008.01.002

Lobell, D. B., Burke, M. B., Tebaldi, C., Mastrandrea, M. D., Falcon, W. P., Naylor, R. L. 2008. Prioritizing climate change adaptation needs for food security in 2030. Science, 319(5863), 607-610. http://dx.doi. org/10.1126/science.1152339

Loewenberg, S. 2011. Humanitarian response inadequate in Horn of Africa crisis. The Lancet, 378(9791), 555-558. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/ S0140-6736(11)61276-2

Melgar-Quiñonez, H., Zubieta, A. C., Valdez, E., Whitelaw, B., Kaiser, L. 2005. Validación de un instrumento para vigilar la inseguridad alimentaria en la Sierra de Manantlán, Jalisco. Salud pública de México, 47(6), 413-422.

Mohamed, A. E. 2014. Comparing Africa’s Shared River Basins – The Limpopo, Orange, Juba and Shabelle Basins. Universal Journal of Geoscience, 2, 200 - 211.

Oduori, S., Vargas, R., Alim, M. 2007. Land use characterization of the Juba and Shabelle Riverine Areas in Southern Somalia. Mogadishu: Government of Somalia.

Paruelo, J. M., Epstein, H. E., Lauenroth, W. K., Burke, I. C. 1997. ANPP estimates from NDVI for the central grassland region of the United States. Ecology, 78(3), 953-958. https://doi.org/10.1890/0012- 9658(1997)078[0953:AEFNFT]2.0.CO;2

Pettorelli, N., Ryan, S., Mueller, T., Bunnefeld, N., Jędrzejewska, B., Lima, M., Kausrud, K. 2011. The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI): unforeseen successes in animal ecology. Climate Research, 46(1), 15-27. http://dx.doi.org/10.3354/ cr00936

Pettorelli, N., Vik, J. O., Mysterud, A., Gaillard, J. M., Tucker, C. J., Stenseth, N. C. 2005. Using the satellite-derived NDVI to assess ecological responses to environmental change. Trends in ecology & evolution, 20(9), 503-510. http://dx.doi. org/10.1016/j.tree.2005.05.011

Pricope, N. G., Husak, G., Lopez-Carr, D., Funk, C., Michaelsen, J. 2013. The climate-population nexus in the East African Horn: Emerging degradation trends in rangeland and pastoral livelihood zones. Global environmental change, 23(6), 1525-1541. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2013.10.002

Strahler, A., 1989. Geografía física. Barcelona: Ediciones Omega.

Tarnavsky, E., Grimes, D., Maidment, R., Black, E., Allan, R. P., Stringer, M., Kayitakire, F. 2014. Extension of the TAMSAT satellite-based rainfall monitoring over Africa and from 1983 to present. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, 53(12), 2805-2822. http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/ JAMC-D-14-0016.1

Tirado, M. C., Clarke, R., Jaykus, L. A., McQuatters- Gollop, A., Frank, J. M. 2010. Climate change and food safety: A review. Food Research International, 43(7), 1745-1765. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j. foodres.2010.07.003

UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund). 2014. Population estimation survey 2014, for the 18 pre-war regions of Somalia: Federal Republic of Somalia.





Practical cases