The region of South Asia is highly prone to cyclones, extreme monsoon rainfall variability, and other severe weather events. In the past two decades, between 1990 and 2020, a total of 1408 natural disasters were reported in the region, affecting over 1.8 billion people and leading to over half a million deaths. The economic damages from the disasters are estimated to be close to US$ 213 billion. Investment in hydromet services (hydrological, weather and climate related services) and early warning systems will be critical in reducing the social and economic devastation caused by natural disasters.
From 15 to 18 November 2021, the World Bank co-organized the 3rd South Asia Hydromet Forum virtually, bringing together hydrometeorological experts from around the world to discuss possibilities of improving hydromet service delivery as well as promoting regional cooperation.
From Japan, Dr. Masahito Ishihara, Senior Advisor on Meteorological Sector of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) participated in the panel discussion, “Regional partnerships for improved weather and climate services in South Asia”, with support from the Tokyo Disaster Risk Management Hub. Dr. Ishihara, an expert in remote-sensing meteorology with over 30 years of experience at the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), shared JICA’s experience in helping to improve hydromet services in South Asia. JICA has been strengthening early warning systems in the region through grant aid of weather radars, transferring latest science and technology in meteorological services through the dispatch of expert teams, and providing training programs for meteorologists in South Asia, with the cooperation of JMA. Dr. Ishihara concluded his intervention by sharing an example of JICA’s work in Sri Lanka. Since 2008, JICA has been providing continuous and elaborate support to the Department of Meteorology of Sri Lanka through a series of grant aids to introduce latest equipment and systems, followed up by technical cooperation projects to effectively utilize the new technology.
About the South Asia Hydromet Forum (SAHF):
The inaugural South Asia Hydromet Forum was cohosted by the World Bank in October 2018, in partnership with the World Meteorological Organization, in Geneva, Switzerland. The event brought together more than 80 weather and climate stakeholders, including representatives from eight South Asian countries, and regional organizations, and highlighted the importance of quality hydromet services and early warning systems, as well as the need for regional cooperation. The second South Asia Hydromet Forum (SAHFII) laid the groundwork for such regional cooperation and designed a program to address SAHF priorities, which is administered by RIMES (Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for Africa and Asia).