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African leaders unite to modernize Hydromet services

The first African Ministerial Conference on Meteorology (AMCOMET) Africa Hydromet Forum opened its doors today to over 500 African leaders from governments, public and private sector representatives, civil society, and development partners who agree that improved weather, water, and climate services, known collectively as hydromet, can ease disaster-related losses and boost their economies.

The Africa Hydromet initiative, which supports the national and regional modernization of hydromet services, is raising US$600 million in funding to modernize old forecast technologies and build new ones. The program will make weather data more accessible and give officials and other decision makers the opportunity to better provide better weather prediction services for their citizens.

Africa currently 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.

“The capability to issue early warnings based on accurate forecasts is especially essential to preserve the lives and households of millions of people across Africa,” said H.E. Josefa Leonel Sacko, African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture.

Co-hosted by the African Union Commission and the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Africa Hydromet Forum unites Africa leaders who wish to emphasize that weather and climate-related disasters are reversing development gains across the entire continent.

These disasters can reduce the Gross Domestic Product of a country by 10 – 20 percent, not only derailing economic development, but reversing economic gains.  Improving hydromet services is integral to building resilience to natural disasters across Sub-Saharan Africa.

“Increased frequency & intensity of natural disasters across Sub-Saharan Africa should serve as a wake-up call”

“The increased frequency and intensity of natural disasters across Sub-Saharan Africa should serve as a wake-up call for governments and the international community to invest in hydromet services. Improving the accuracy of weather forecasts would not only save lives but also help African cities and communities build resilience against climate change,” said Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice President for Africa.

The Forum will provide a platform to position hydromet strengthening as a pillar of Africa’s climate-resilient development and adaptation planning. It will demonstrate the benefits of doing so across a range of sectors including agriculture, water, transport, civil aviation, natural resource management, environment, energy, and disaster risk management.

“Effective hydromet services, such as advanced weather and climate forecasting or simple – and sustainable – river level gauges, ensure that communities have the early warnings needed to prepare before disasters hit. Climate services permit government agencies to effectively plan for climate change based on the latest information, and businesses in climate-sensitive sectors to incorporate timely, accurate data in the decisions that affect their industry,” said Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General, World Meteorological Organization.

The African Union Commission, the World Bank, the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, World Meteorological Organization, and key partners are leading additional efforts for the modernization of hydromet services through institutional capacity building, systems modernization, and service delivery..

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