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Economy

Weatherman seeks shield from false prediction cases

The Kenya Meteorological Department has often
The Kenya Meteorological Department has often been blamed for inaccurate weather predictions. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The weather agency has moved to grant itself immunity from legal suits triggered by its forecast in a proposed law change that is coming in a year.

The Kenya Meteorological Department has often been blamed for inaccurate weather predictions.

In a draft Kenya Meteorology Bill, 2019, put for public review Wednesday, the agency is seeking to shield its officers from consequences of its inaccurate reports.

The agency has on several occasions been blamed for misjudging weather patterns, leading to losses in other sectors such as agriculture on poor guide to the farming calendar.

“The authority is not liable for any damage, loss or injury sustained or alleged to have been sustained by any person as a result of such person’s reliance on meteorological information provided by the Authority,” states the agency in the proposed law.

The ministry of Agriculture has faulted the weatherman for giving inaccurate forecast that looks set to hurt food production this year and curb economic growth. The forecast prompted farmers in Western Kenya to plant in March, with many now staring at failed crops and losses running into millions of shillings on fertiliser, seeds and planting costs.

The so-called long rains season that runs from March to May delayed in most parts of the country despite the favourable forecast from the met department. The weatherman issued another false alert promising rains in early April, which has brought confusion in Uasin Gishu and Trans Nzoia — which produce the bulk of Kenya’s maize grain staple.

Agriculture accounts for a third of Kenya’s annual economic output or gross domestic product (GDP) and contributes directly and indirectly to nearly half of Kenya’s labour.

Poor rainfall means lost earnings for farmers and related industries as well as expensive food and inflation. Badweather also forces the State into expensive expenditures like importation of food and subsidies to encourage imports.

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