UNDP Meeting Held to Strengthen Climate Information Systems across 11 Sub-Saharan African Nations

Mar 15, 2016

The workshop addresses issues of Saving Lives, Improving Livelihoods and Increasing Resiliency with Tailored Weather Information Services for a Changing Climate. Photo: Moses Zangar, Jr./UNDP in Zambia.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) kicked off a meeting today in Livingstone on “The Last Mile - Saving lives, improving livelihoods and increasing resiliency with tailored weather information services for a changing climate.”

The workshop brings together delegates from 11 African nations as well as representatives of the Zambian government and the Regional Coordinator for the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit, Pumulo Mubita.

Delivering the keynote address at the opening session, James Kapyanga, Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications said climate change is a reality and unless we embrace appropriate climate resilience and adaptation measures, our development trajectory will continue declining.

“This will result in perpetual poverty for our people, especially the most vulnerable in rural areas. Paramount among the needed measures is the generation of tailored weather and climate information and its application in planning and decision making process at national, community and personal levels,” Deputy Minister Kapyanga said, noting that adapting to climate change is an economic and social imperative for Africa.

“Improved weather and climate information will be a key building block for national adaption plans.   In order to reach the last mile, national weather information services should not only have access to communicate and apply the content derived from these systems to those in need, but involve a number of actors who need to come together to effectively bring the information gathered by the national hydro meteorological services and take them past the last mile,” he said.

 “Climate information and early warning systems can save lives, improve livelihoods and build resiliency across Africa,” said Bonizella Biagini, Programme Manager for the UNDP Programme on Climate Information for Resilient Development in Africa (CIRDA).

“In order to seize this opportunity, timely, accurate and actionable weather and climate information must be delivered from data collection and creation sources across the ‘Last Mile’ to uninformed and vulnerable end-users,” the UNDP Country Director in Zambia, Martim Maya said at the opening ceremony today.

The social, economic and human imperative to build working early warning systems and improve climate and weather monitoring are clear: better information on weather and climate saves lives and protect livelihoods.

According to Jacob Nkomoki, Director of Zambia’s Meteorological Department (ZMD), floods and droughts have cost Zambia US$13.8 billion over the past three decades, which is equivalent to a 0.4 percent loss in annual economic growth. “It is estimated that rainfall variability alone could keep an additional 300,000 Zambians below the poverty line and cost Zambia US$4.3 billion in lost Gross Domestic Product over the next decade.”

Through early alerts and effective planning, some of these costs could be avoided. These will rely on improved access to climate information, better weather services and effective early warning systems, according to the Zambia Meteorological Department.

The ZMD is currently engaged in a Climate Information and Early Warning Systems Project supported by the United Nations Development Programme that is working to update Zambia’s national meteorological system, strengthen capacity in the ZMD, engage with weather service providers and other potential partners in the private sector, and build a reliable and sustainable national weather monitoring and reporting system. The project began in 2013 and will run through 2017, with US$4 million in financing from the Global Environment Facility and over $23 million in co-financing.