……..collaborative efforts view science and technology as a critical intervention mechanism

African countries are intensifying collaborative mechanisms to come up with integrated approaches to address current challenges in hydro-meteorological services as evidenced from the second task force meeting of the African Ministerial Conference on Meteorology (AMCOMET) in Harare, Zimbabwe on 26 to 28 May, 2014.

According to Dr Joseph Mukabana, World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) Director of the Regional Office for Africa,

“Currently the majority of countries in Africa do not have the required capacities to effectively address the entire value chain to enable the production, delivery and application of weather and climate services. While some progress has been made with the provision of warnings that have helped to reduce mortality rates from hydro-meteorological hazards, the continent is not benefitting fully from what science can offer to enhance decision making with regards to improved livelihoods and increased resilience.”

The meeting was attended by Heads of the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) from various parts of the African continent.

The Harare meeting deliberated on the draft implementation and resource mobilization plan for the Integrated African Strategy on Meteorology, the constitution and rules of procedures and the establishment of a Regional Climate Centre in Central Africa.

It also informed delegates on advances made in the implementation of an African Regional Space programme where AMCOMET is collaborating with the African Ministerial Conference on Science and Technology (AMCOST) and the Human Resource and Science and Technology Commission of the African Union.

“I am happy to report that with the support and guidance of the WMO and the African Union Commission (AUC), the presentation of the draft implementation plan has undergone a validation process as a requirement of the AUC and when finalized will be presented to the bureau members, the third session of AMCOMET and the African Union organs for endorsement,” Mukabana said.

Mukabana says the tremendous gap in Africa has led the WMO, its partners and governments to join forces to enable the world, especially vulnerable developing countries to benefit from application of climate services through the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS).

“This would contribute to effective decision making in support of climate risk management through appropriate planning in agriculture, water resources management, public health and disaster risk reduction. Initiatives in risk management are being introduced in a number of countries in Africa,” Mukabana said.

AMCOMET was established at the first conference of ministers responsible for meteorology in Africa in Nairobi, Kenya in April 2010 through the Nairobi declaration. It is a high level policy mechanism for the development of meteorology and its applications in support of sustainable development in Africa.

The Nairobi declaration called for the development of an Integrated African Strategy on Meteorology to enhance cooperation between African countries to strengthen the capabilities of the National Meteorological Services and existing Regional and Sub-regional climate services in Africa so as to meet government and societal needs.

During the second session of AMCOMET which took place in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe in October 2012, the ministers responsible for meteorology requested the establishment for the development of the implementation and resource mobilization plan for the Integrated African Strategy on Meteorology, to review the AMCOMET constitution and rules of procedures and to explore the feasibility of establishing an African Regional Space programme.

“The ministers further urged the WMO and the AUC to continue with the existing efforts in establishing a regional climate centre in central Africa and to further support the African National Meteorological Services meet the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) requirements regarding quality management systems and competency assessments,” Mukabana said.

He added that the AMCOMET in collaboration with the AUC, Zimbabwe government as the AMCOMET bureau chair and the WMO have had very busy intersession periods facilitating the decisions taken by ministers and enhancing the visibility of AMCOMET in the region.

Olushola Olayide, Senior Policy Officer, Enviornment and Water Resources Rural Economy and Agriculture department for the AUC said meteorology meetings would add value to the work of the commission and facilitate the improvement of meteorological and earth observation data in the African continent.

“This will lead to poverty alleviation, improved livelihood of the rural populace and sustainable development,” Olayide said.

She also implored the taskforce to consider the designation of climate centres of excellence in the five regions of Africa including the Indian Ocean for effective implementation of the integrated African strategy on meteorology and improved climate services.

Saviour Kasukuwere, Zimbabwe’s minister of Environment, Water and Climate said disasters most of which are directly related to the vagaries of weather and increasing climate variability are causing havoc and mayhem in African countries.

He said ministers responsible for weather and climate are now increasingly under pressure from citizens and counterparts in charge of vulnerable sectors particularly those dependent and responsible for agriculture, water, health, energy, disaster management, environment and transport to enable them to execute their mandates.

African countries meet in Harare, Zimbabwe to chart the way forward on weather and climate services at the AMCOMET 2nd task force meeting.
Photos copyright: Wallace Mawire

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