CIRDA workshop to deepen private sector engagement in increasing access to climate information in Africa

Mar 2, 2015

Modern weather equipment such as this greatly improves accurate and reliable weather and climate information to aid development planning (Photo credit: CIRDA/UNDP 2015)

Kampala, 3 March 2015 — Climate stresses and limited adaptive capacity are increasing Africa´s vulnerability to climate change. For example, Uganda currently is exposed to impacts of climate change as a large majority of its total population is dependent economically on rain-fed agriculture.

With support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and international agencies, such as UNDP and UNEP, Uganda has developed a National Adaptation Programme of Action to protect important development goals from climate change through adaptation and risk management. However, for Uganda to implement its risk management solutions, it requires reliable and timely climate and weather information that can be translated into actions.

The Government of Uganda and 10 other African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Liberia, Malawi, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Zambia) have partnered with UNDP, to promote access to more timely and reliable climate and weather information that will help reduce the impacts of climate change in all development sectors. These efforts are being channeled through UNDP’s Multi Country Support Programme to Strengthen Climate Information Systems in Africa (CIRDA) that brings new technologies and capacities to help farmers, policy makers, and the private sector to make well informed decisions in the face of extreme weather events and ongoing climate change. The CIRDA Programme, financed by the GEF’s-Least Developed Country Fund (GEF- LDCF), supports the concrete actions that African countries are taking to increase their resilience to climate change.

As part of this ongoing CIRDA support, the Government of Uganda and UNDP are holding an international workshop at the Golf Course Hotel in Kampala aimed at building sustainable climate change adaptation and economic development plans. The workshop is directed at helping National Hydrological and Meteorological Services (NHMS) in Africa create value added weather and climate services by engaging with the private sector and developing innovative public private partnerships.

The workshop will bring together government representatives, international experts and representatives from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and UNDP.  Discussions will be held with representatives from agriculture, financial, aviation and telecommunication sectors on how to best meet their needs and engage them through the use of new technologies to communicate timely and reliable climate information to support national development.

Long term financial sustainability of national weather and climate services is a key topic to be addressed during this two day event. As governments deal with budget constraints on many fronts, limited budget resources to acquire the necessary equipment, human and resource remain a big challenge for Meteorological Authorities in their attempts meet the information needs of local populations. Hence the discussions have also been centered on analyzing the potential for generating revenue to support the sustainability of weather and climate services- including opportunities for collaboration with mobile phone companies and establishing public private partnerships.

“The use of weather and climate information is essential for national planning and can be used to reduce loss of lives and property thus alleviating poverty and enhance economic competitiveness locally and internationally,” stated H.E. Ephraim Kamuntu, Minister for Water and Environment of the Government of Uganda.

“Meteorology is critical for the development of Uganda as it provides us with accurate weather and climate information and forecasting which are essential for planning in all sectors of the economy, particularly in trade, transport, tourism, health, water, energy, as well as ensuring our timely response and management of disasters and other natural and man-made hazards,” highlighted Ms. Almaz Gebru, UNDP Country Director for Uganda.

“Adaptation can only occur when reliable climate information can be translated into actionable results. For this to happen, it is necessary that National Meteorological Services have not only access to modern weather and climate observation and forecasting technologies but most importantly can maintain these systems over time. They must be financially and operationally viable,” said Dr. Bonizella Biagini, CIRDA Programme Manager.

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CIRDA is the Multi Country Programme to Strengthen Climate Information for Resilient Development and Adaptation to Climate Change in Africa. Funded by the GEF and implemented by UNDP, CIRDA is working with 11 countries in Africa (Benin, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sao Tome and Principe, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia) to support national climate services in their efforts to collect, analyse and disseminate climate information as a key tool in long term planning and adaptation. For more information, see: www. http://www.undp-alm.org/projects/cirda and www.undp-cirda.blogspot.com

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UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in 177 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations.

For more information, please contact:

Ms. Montserrat Xilotl, CIRDA Coordinator, UNDP.Tel: +16465250180. Email: montserrat.xilotl@undp.org

Mr. Onesimus Muhwezi, Team Leader, Energy and Environment Programme, UNDP Uganda. Tel: +256 417 112100 Ext. 139. Email: to onesimus.muhwezi@undp.org