UNDP and GoM conduct inception workshop for a new climate change project

Mar 26, 2014

Mr Kanyinji (Center, seated) pose for a group photo with the rest of the participants. Photo: Steve Kamponda, UNDP Malawi.

With the rapid climatic changes the world is experiencing, it is imperative that accurate and location-specific weather forecasts are available in an effort to reduce and manage disaster risks.

This is why the Government of Malawi, with UNDP support, held an inception workshop to introduce the Strengthening climate information and early warning systems in Eastern and Southern Africa for climate resilient development and adaptation to climate change project – an initiative designed to support effective adaptation planning in the face of increasing intensity and frequency of droughts, floods and strong winds in the country.

The workshop was opened by Principal Secretary in the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) Mr. Jeffrey Kanyinji and was facilitated by Mr. Benjamin Larroquette, UNDP-GEF Regional Technical Advisor, who is based at the Regional Service Centre for Africa in Addis Ababa.

Participants of the workshop included environment and climate change officers from national departments as well as district councils, district commissioners, and the civil society involved in climate change work. They discussed the project’s structure, implementation arrangements, log-frame, GEF monitoring and evaluation requirements, risk management strategy, as well as the initial annual work plan and way forward.

The importance of the four-year project to Malawi cannot be overestimated. Currently, huge amounts of resources are being used to provide relief and support to rebuild disaster-stricken communities every year due to disasters that could otherwise be averted with improved early warning systems by the Department of Meteorological Services.

“When disaster strikes, we are talking about 1.7 percent of the GDP being lost. If you calculate that, you will find that it is quite a heavy burden on the economy.

“If you have built school blocks, for instance, and they get swallowed away by floods, it means all that money that you spent on building those school blocks is wasted; the school children will not go to school anymore and we have to start building again instead of thinking of developing other areas,” explained Mr. Kanyinji.

Reiterating the impact of climate-related disasters, Assistant Resident Representative responsible for Disaster Risk Management at UNDP Malawi, Mr. Jan Rijpma, added that "Climate-related hazards in Malawi have already disrupted food production and caused an overall reduction of community and household resilience. Sectors experiencing negative impacts include agriculture, fisheries, infrastructure, health, education and energy, through the effects on hydro-power production."

Currently, the technology in the country only enables the Meteorological Department to use regional models and provide weather forecasts for the country in general, which is not useful in disaster preparedness. This project will move a step closer and allow the Department to be much more accurate in terms of providing district or even village specific information in disaster risk areas.

“The project will strengthen the capacity of the Departments of Meteorological Services, Water and Disaster Management Affairs to improve climate information, early warning systems for better and resilient development for farmers, early warning systems for extreme weather events and incorporate climate information into routine development planning,” said Mr. Larroquette.

The project is a regional initiative which is also being implemented in 10 other African countries including Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Benin with financial support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF). In Malawi, GEF has invested about USD 3.9 million in the project. GEF is an independently operating financial organization which provides grants for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants. 

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