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Burundi - Climate

Daily temperatures in this tropical highland climate vary with elevation, which is the dominant temperature factor. Tihe only land below 3,000 feet is a narrow plains area along the Rusizi River, which is at 2,600 feet above sea level and forms the western boundary north of Lake Tanganyika. The temperature in this region may reach a maximum of 93 F.; the average is about 78 F. The eastern border areas, generally below 5,000 feet, are also warmer than the heavily populated central plateaus, which averages 65, to 67 F.

In the mountainous areas, temperatures fluctuate between 57° and 68" F. during the day and may drop 20 degrees or more at night. Above 5,000-foot elevation in the central plateaus and highlands, where most of the population is concentrated, the climate is rarely hot enough to be uncomfortable to humans, despite a location within 50 of the equator.

The country includes areas along both slopes of the Congo-Nile Divide, the range of mountains associated with the western extension of the Rift Valley. Westward from this north-south ridgeline, short, swift rivers carry runoff waters down Burundi's narrow western watershed into the Rusizi River or Lake Tanganyika, which together form the boundary with the Congo (Kinshasa). Since the Rusizi flows into Lake Tanganyika, which drains into the Congo River systems, rainfall from this western slope eventually flows into the Atlantic Ocean. The short western-slope rivers tend to have shallow beds, and falls and rapids are common.

The areas east and southeast of the ridgeline, constituting four-fifths of the country, are part of the upper reaches of the Nile River system. From the small surviviug forests near the mountain tops, elevations decrease eastward in in a series of plateaus and rounded hills to about 5,000 feet in the border areas of thle northeast, Principal rivers in the central plateaus include the Ruvironza, and Ruvubui, the main channels of eC\ tremlely Complex nletworks.

Total rainfall varies greatly between one locale and another and from year to year. The countrywide average is between 40 and 60 inches yer year. Rainstorms at the higher elevations are usually longer but of lighter intensity than at the lower levels.

Although some rain falls during each month, June, July, and August are considered dry months, as the average during each of these months is less than one-half inch, too little to be of much significance to farmers. From September until November or December, rainfall increases to about 6 inches per month, then drops slightly during January and February. There is an increase to 7 or 8 inches per month during March and April, a sharp reduction to about 4 inches in May, followed by the three almost rainless months of June through August.

Burundi has two primary cropping seasons: Season A from September to February and season B from February to July. Season C covers the long dry summer period, when cropping is possible only with irrigation, invariably in the marshland areas. Season B is the primary production period, accounting for 50% to 65% of production largely because this period is less prone to drought or floods. Season A accounts for 20% to 35%, and season C accounts for 10% to 15%.

Climate change models show a tendency toward more extreme weather cycles for Burundi, which requires increased concentration on improved climate-adaptable seed varieties and animal breeds and on climate-smart production methods. Many farmers and staff from MINAGRIE’s Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DPAE) indicated that variations in rainfall have increased in recent years. This has led to rain deficits, localized drought conditions and other weather extremes such as high winds and hail, with resulting decreases in crop yields.

Based on 60 years of data, the dry season has become longer in the lowlands and central highlands, and temperatures have risen and are predicted to increase by an average of 1.7° to 3.0° C (mean temperature) by 2050 (Beck 2010). Rainfall is also predicted to change, but the amount of change is difficult to predict.

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Page last modified: 30-05-2015 21:11:28 ZULU