On March 23rd, 2019, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Rwanda and the Rwanda Meteorology Agency (Meteo Rwanda) joined together to celebrate World Meteorological Day.
Meteo Rwanda has been an active member of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) since February 1963. The main objective of the WMO is to showcase and “facilitate free and unrestricted exchange of data and information, products and services in real- or near-real time on matters relating to safety and security of society, economic welfare and the protection of the environment” (WMO).
This year, on World Meteorological Day, Meteo Rwanda, the Ministry of Environment and UNDP Rwanda reflected on the contributions that meteorology has had on the safety, wellbeing and development of Rwanda. With this year’s theme being “the Sun, the Earth and the Weather”, during the celebration, UNDP’s Resident Representative Stephen Rodriques mentioned that this “theme particularly reminds us of the role we all must play in order to prepare for and reduce vulnerability to the extreme weather events that the world has been experiencing, such as floods, heavy rains, thunderstorms, lightning and droughts. In Rwanda, over a decade, natural disasters have been responsible for hundreds of deaths and injuries, as well as crop failures and millions of dollars of infrastructure losses.” The UNDP Resident Representative also emphasized the importance of Meteo Rwanda and the valuable work done by the agency in early warning and disaster risk reduction—especially when dealing with severe and unpredictable weather conditions.
UNDP Resident Representative Stephen Rodrigues (right) delivering celebration remarks alongside Director General of Meteo Rwanda, Amiable Gahigi (Left)
During the celebration UNDP Rwanda was happy to announce a new partnership with Meteo Rwanda aimed at increasing national and regional capacity in disaster risk reduction and disaster risk management. UNDP Rwanda will work alongside Meteo Rwanda and the Ministry in charge of Emergency Management (MINEMA) to implement a new five-year project known as Strengthening National and Local Disaster Risk Management (DRM) Capacity and Resilience, and Enhancing Preparedness and Early Warning System (EWS) in Rwanda. Under this programme UNDP Rwanda will continue to support MINEMA and Meteo Rwanda on the development of strong institutional and legal frameworks, the mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction in annual action plans, and policy development in sectorial ministries and district development plans. Moreover, UNDP, which had partnered with the former MIDIMAR to develop Rwanda’s comprehensive National Risk Atlas, will now collaborate with the institutions to enhance the national disaster communication systems needed to respond to disaster and emergency situations.
Meteo Rwanda staff demonstrating some of their equipments to predict weather patterns
Currently Meteo Rwanda is developing a early warning system that will track and predict disaster impacts. The system will be used to provide early alerts to communities and individuals and hopefully help minimize the loss of livelihoods and infrastructure. At the Meteo Rwanda headquarters, located in Kigali, there are many meteorological infrastructures such as a standard temperature shelter (used to record temperatures), a wireless weather station (used to record wind speed, direction, and rainfall), an air quality station (used to measure PM 2.5 air quality), a satellite antenna (used to collect weather satellite information), a soil moisture tension meter (used to measure the moisture of the soil), two water panels (used to measure the evaporation rate of water) and a forecasting room (used to forecast and analyze information on clouds, air pressure and disaster records). This infrastructure allows Meteo Rwanda to accurately determine weather patterns and conditions which, in turn, helps Rwanda improve disaster risk reduction, preparedness and management.
At the close of this year’s World Meteorological Day, both UNDP Rwanda and Meteo Rwanda agreed that severe weather events are on the rise and it is up to society - Government, Civil Society Organizations, development agencies, private sector, and all individuals - to think about the importance of disaster risk reduction and management and to take appropriate measures to reduce vulnerability and ensure the overall wellbeing of society.
All participant from UNDP, Meteo, and the Government of Rwanda came together to show their support for World Meteorological Day
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