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Farmers and fishers benefiting from digitized weather data in Malawi

The agriculture sector, including fisheries, remains a key source of economic growth in Malawi and is extremely vulnerable to the climate change effects and disasters such as floods, droughts, heavy rains and strong winds.

21 June 2018 - The Malawi Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DCCMS), with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). has embarked on a data digitization process for climate and weather data spanning, that will help improve the accuracy of climate information in the targeted areas.

The exercise which is set to run for 17 days is being conducted in Zomba District under the Green Climate Fund (GCF) funded ‘Saving lives and Protecting Agriculture-based Livelihoods in Malawi: Scaling up the use of Modernized Climate information and Early Warning Systems (M-CLIMES), being implemented by the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma).

The DCCMS Chief Meteorologist, Mr. Fred Kossam, said that the digitization of climate data is expected to bring many benefits to Malawi and will provide a fundamental building block for climate change adaptation and disaster management in the country by improving the accuracy of seasonal rainfall forecast.

“This is a milestone for the department as the project aims to develop and disseminate tailored warnings and weather advisories for fishing communities to reduce their vulnerability to climate induced weather patterns including strong mwera winds,” said Mr. Kossam. “The agriculture sector, including fisheries, remains a key source of economic growth for the country. However, it is extremely vulnerable to climate variability, climate change and disasters such as floods, droughts, heavy rains and strong winds. Predicting increases in temperature and rainfall variability as well as forecasting is a key capability that will allow Malawi to effectively adapt to the impacts of climate variability and change."

The UNDP Portfolio Manager for Resilience and Sustainable Growth, Mr. Andrew Spezowka, said that responding to climate challenges in the country requires collective action from all people and stakeholders and that UNDP is working to ensure there is effective management of the environment, natural resources and climate change risks.

“Scaling up early warning and climate information systems in targeted areas can help put in place more shock-sensitive social protection systems, improve development planning, and reduce economic risks and save lives, and thereby contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Mr. Spezowka.

Approximately 85 percent of Malawi’s population lives in rural areas and is engaged in smallholder rain-fed agriculture where the economies are highly dependent on climate hence the need to collect local weather data and analyze it to predict and respond to climate variability. The digitization exercise will have daily and seasonal weather information, which will be used by subsistence farmers and fishermen to plan planting strategies, crop types, application of agricultural inputs, navigate stormy weather, and plan times and locations for drying fish.

View original story on UNDP Malawi.

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