Opinion and Analysis
Upgrade equipment at weather stations for reliable forecasts, focused planning
Posted Tuesday, May 29 2012 at 18:50
Proposals that would make a difference
- Place weather forecasting under an autonomous agency, not under a ministry; as it is, the department will hardly win crucial attention and funding.
- It behoves the Treasury to allocate adequate funds for weather forecasting since planners must start using related information to step up level of preparedness.
- The East African Community is ripe to have an authority dealing with weather patterns, climate change and global warming.
In March, the Meteorology Department said April rains were to be “below adequate”. The information was vague, non-committal and not of much use for planning activities that are weather dependent.
As it turned out we got rains that were way above average with many areas reporting major losses due to flooding.
But it was possible to get better indication of rains from CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera TV networks than from our weatherman.
In this age of advanced science and technology, one wonders why Kenyans are so helpless predicting weather with a fair amount of accuracy.
Weather, like oil prices, has become a critical variable macro-economic input in economic and budgetary planning for this country.
We, therefore, need to be armed with a good level of weather predictability.
It is the amount of rains that the country gets that will determine budgeting for foreign exchange to import emergency food.
The amount of rains also determines export crop yields and how much foreign exchange we shall realise.
Amount or absence of rains determines the cost of food, which influences inflation. Rains also determine the level of hydropower generation, and consequent electricity tariffs.
If getting correct information on weather is so critical for economic planning, then we should invest in the most advanced tools available for weather forecasting.
This way, we shall upgrade ourselves from a state of helplessness and arbitrariness to a level of knowledge and strength.
Let us create the right institutions for strategic activities that greatly impact the nation. Having weather forecasting as a ministry department will never attract the necessary resource and attention.
An autonomous weather forecasting authority may be what we need to be able to streamline and prioritise attainment of capacity, technology and funding for effective forecasts.
It would also be prudent to create an EAC weather forecasting authority to increase data and improve the level of information we have for weather knows no political boundaries.
Such a regional body would attract more funding and collaboration from across the globe. In the old EAC days, the meteorology work was under a regional agency.