FEATURE STORY

Creating an Atmosphere of Cooperation in Sub-Saharan Africa by Strengthening Weather, Climate and Hydrological Services

June 2, 2015

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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A new, innovative climate and disaster resilience initiative for Sub-Saharan Africa launched today, to help strengthen resilience to extreme weather events
  • The initiative will support real-time weather information designed to benefit multiple sectors of the economy
  • Through the initiative, citizens will receive better early warning for disasters

GENEVA, June 2, 2015 – Transcending national boundaries, it is anticipated that adverse impacts from climate change will pose severe risks to growth and development across Sub-Saharan Africa. Dry areas will get drier and wet areas wetter, leading to prolonged droughts, increased floods and decreased food security.  To support the continent’s already existing move toward the modernization and strengthening of Sub-Saharan African climate, weather and hydrological services, known collectively as hydromet, the World Meteorological Organization, African Development Bank and World Bank Group have joined forces to create a regional initiative titled, ‘Strengthening Climate and Disaster Resilience in Sub-Saharan Africa.’ 

Launched in May 2015 during the 17th session of the World Meteorological Congress in Geneva, the initiative aims to create a new atmosphere of cooperation among regional partners.  It will offer key support to hydromet services essential for the strengthening of resilience to extreme weather events and the enabling of economic development.

“Reliable and real-time weather and climate information is a prerequisite for multiple sectors of the economy, including water, agriculture, transport, energy and public health,” said Makhtar Diop, the World Bank Vice President for the Africa Region. “Increasing the accuracy of weather forecasts will save lives and livelihoods. We are committed to working together to improve these services in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

Most hydromet services in Sub-Saharan Africa are unable to meet current needs for weather and climate information and offer only limited areas of trans-boundary cooperation. A recent World Meteorological Organization (WMO) monitoring survey showed that 54% of the surface and 71% of the upper air weather stations in the region did not report data. In addition, there is limited and often fragmented funding from development partners. The need for a larger, sustainable system architecture inspired the WMO, African Development Bank, and World Bank Group to join forces.

“This is a timely and highly needed initiative. With the help of all our partners and member countries, we are committed to bring cutting-edge advancements and experience from around the globe to Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Michael Jarraud, Secretary General of the WMO. “In addition, it is fully aligned with the Global Framework for Climate Services and builds on existing cooperation.”

The new initiative is based on several guiding principles, such as improving the capacity of hydromet services and their regional support centers to access global climate data and global models. This includes improved early warning and forecasting to help prevent damage and loss of life from catastrophic events. Partnerships and cross-border coordination among existing services would also be strengthened through information sharing among agencies and advising on improving legal and regulatory frameworks.

The expected results of the initiative include the creation of timely and reliable forecasts at the regional, national and local levels, leading to a reduction in the impacts of disasters on people and property. Additional results include improved weather, climate and hydrological services delivered to citizens and weather-dependent sectors and improved international and cross-border collaboration on drought, severe weather and flood warnings. Initial funding for technical assistance is being provided by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR).

The initiative will have a flexible framework to coordinate and leverage financing, ranging between US$550-US$600 million, from various sources of development and climate finance. The initial phase will focus on 15 countries and four regional centers. The initiative also addresses how the modernization and strengthening of hydromet services remains a high priority of the region, as expressed in the African Union’s Integrated African Strategy on Meteorology.

“As the premiere African development institution, the African Development Bank is happy to join forces with the World Bank Group and WMO in this transformative initiative,” said Aly Abou-Sabaa, Vice President of the African Development Bank. “If done right, this initiative will give a major boost to economic as well as human development indices in Sub-Saharan African, leading to economic growth and development”.