UNDP and GOM sign a climate information and early warning systems project

Dec 6, 2013

(L-R) UNDP'S MR. JAN RIPJMA (ASSISTANT RESIDENT REPRESENTATIVE), MS. MIA SEPPO (RESIDENT REPRESENTATIVE) AND THE SECRETARY FOR DODMA, MR. JEFFREY KANYINJI FINALISE SIGNING THE PROJECT DOCUMENTS. Photo: UNDP Malawi.

UNDP and the Government of Malawi (GoM) have signed a new project titled “Strengthening climate information and early warning systems in Eastern and Southern Africa for climate resilient development and adaptation to climate change – Malawi”. The signing ceremony took place at the Department of Disaster Management Affairs in Lilongwe on 6 December 2013 and was graced by the Secretary for the Department, Mr. Jeffrey Kanyinji and Ms. Mia Seppo, UNDP Resident Representative. Also in attendance were the Secretary for Environment and Climate Change, Mrs. Yanira Ntupunyama, the Director of Finance & Administration of the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Felix Chando and other senior government and UNDP officials

The current situation analysis indicates that Malawi’s climate information and early warning systems (EWS) are limited in their ability to monitor and forecast weather conditions, communicate warnings, respond to disasters, and plan for long-onset changes that require transformation in economic development. This is particularly due to limited capacity in the national weather, hydrological and climate observation and monitoring networks.

The four-year project is therefore designed to improve the country’s ability to plan for, respond to, and minimise the impacts of climate change and prevent, respond to and mitigate natural disasters, by enhancing relevant capacities to monitor and forecast extreme weather, hydrology and climate change; and efficient and effectively use hydro-meteorological and environmental information for developing early warnings and informing long-term development plans.

Speaking during the function, Mr. Kanyinji acknowledged the importance of early warning systems on the socio-economic development of the country.

“This is very important because effective early warning systems can result in reducing the number of households and household property affected and damaged by disasters thereby reducing the amount of resources government and other stakeholders spend on disaster response to provide relieve assistance to the affected population.

“The resources not spent on response can then be used for the social-economic development of the country,” said Mr. Kanyinji.

Mr. Kanyinji assured the Ministry of Finance, which was represented by the Director of Finance & Administration of the Ministry of Finance, that his department and two other implementing partners, the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services and the Ministry of Water Development and Irrigation will ensure that the resources allocated for the project are used appropriately.

In her remarks, Ms. Seppo reiterated the importance of the project in the country’s food security efforts in the light of the 2011-12 droughts that had severe effects on food security in 15 districts and left 2 million people affected, and this year’s low food production which has affected 24 Districts country-wide.

“The impacts of climate-related hazards in Malawi have already disrupted food production, led to the displacement of communities, loss of life and assets, and caused an overall reduction of community and household resilience.

 “This project will therefore benefit communities and households in vulnerable areas, particularly those that are reliant on rain-fed agriculture in areas affected by droughts and floods,” said Ms. Seppo.

Among other things, the project will develop and disseminate tailored weather and climate information (including early warnings for drought, floods and Mwera winds) to meet the needs of end-users in particular local farmers and fishermen in at least 7 disaster prone priority districts, namely Phalombe, Dedza, Kasungu, Lilongwe, Salima, Nkhotakota, Karonga and Nkhata Bay; and establish cooperation agreements with national hydro-meteorological counterparts in Mozambique to improve warnings for tropical cyclones, flooding, Mwera winds and drought.

Malawi is among nine other countries in which this project is being implemented as a regional programme. Total resources to be invested locally is USD 4 million which has been made available with support from the Global Environmental Facility, with USD400, 000 included for Regional support. The Department for International Development (DfID-UK) is co-financing the project through their support to the Enhanced Community Resilience Programme, which is also looking at issues of early warning systems in climate change adaptation.

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