UN support enhances delivery of improved weather services in Malawi

Yobu Kachiwanda of the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services explaining processes that happen in MET studio to UN Resident Coordinator/ UNDP Resident Representative Maria Jose Torres.

August 1st, 2018: The Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services has said UN capacity building support to the department has improved their capacity to generate, analyse and disseminate weather information in the country.

The department’s deputy director Rodrick Walusa said this on 27th July 2018 when the UN Resident Coordinator, Maria Jose Torres, visited their offices in Blantyre to appreciate impact of UN support to the department.

“UNDP has provided us with support to improve our infrastructure for handling weather information,” said Walusa. “We have transformed many of our weather stations into automated ones. With UNDP support, 10 automated weather stations have been fully automated and additional 33 automated weather stations are being procured by UNDP for installation in some of the remaining sites across the country.”

He said the department is also working with FAO and WFP to improve production and delivery of weather information services aimed at supporting agricultural production and resilience building in the country.

Torres, said Malawi’s capacity to adapt to climate change and reduce disaster risks largely depends on availability and access to accurate weather information to inform decision making and interventions at all levels, including communities.

“Malawi needs stronger capacity to adapt to climate-related hazards, limit their negative impacts and promote socio-economic development,” said Torres. “I am therefore delighted to note that the department has improved accuracy of weather and climate forecasts because of this investment in infrastructure.”

Apart from installation of automated weather stations, she said UNDP has also supported Malawi Government to rehabilitate its 14 hydrological stations and conventional meteorological equipment in all its 21 principal stations.

UN Resident Coordinator/ UNDP Resident Representative Maria Jose Torres being briefed on the new equipment UNDP bought for the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services to improve weather services in Malawi

Torres added they have also supported the government to acquire protective software, construct five hydrological data collection platforms, and send some key staff for specialised training abroad to ensure improved forecasting for flood and weather early warning, among others.

“The hydrological stations are expected to improve flood forecasting there by reducing risks to flooding in selected catchments. Similarly, flood warnings will enable local communities to move to locations of safety with their possessions, stored food and livestock before disaster strikes,” said the UN Representative.

Approximately 85 percent of Malawi’s population lives in rural areas with the majority engaged in smallholder rain-fed agriculture. The agriculture sector, including fisheries, remains a key source of economic growth for the country and is extremely vulnerable to climate variability, change and disasters such as floods, droughts, heavy rains and strong winds.

However, Malawi’s climate information and early warning systems have been limited in their ability to monitor and forecast weather conditions, communicate warnings, respond to disasters, and plan for long-onset changes, hence the capacity building partnership between the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services and the UN.

UN Resident Coordinator/ UNDP Resident Representative Maria Jose Torres seeing some of the weather information on display at the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services offices in Blantyre.