ADDIS-ABABA, September 12 2017‒“Hydromet” or weather, water, and climate services affect the decisions people, communities, and governments make every day. A family at their farm, a shopkeeper in a store, or a government worker on a dam, all need accurate, timely information to make well-informed day-to-day decisions. This can come from something as simple a river gauge, which warns of rising water levels, to more advanced weather forecasting systems alerting an entire country of the approach of a cyclone.
Disasters related to weather, water, and climate badly affect communities and cause billions of US dollars in economic losses every year. Globally, hard-fought development gains are placed at risk. Add the consequences of climate change, and such losses could increase.
Africa has the world’s least developed weather, water, and climate observation network, with less than 300 of its weather stations meeting the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO’s) observation standards. As much as 54 per cent of its surface weather stations, and 71 per cent of its upper-air weather stations, do not report accurate data. Budgets to maintain key infrastructure run short each year, and the cost of modernization investment needed amounts to more than US$1.5 billion.
These costs can be eased, however, or effectively offset. The World Bank Group’s research shows that countries can save US$13 billion in asset losses annually by investing in hydromet, as well as saving US$22 billion in losses to well-being, and US$30 billion through a resulting increase in productivity.