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Enhancing weather and climate information services in Tanzania

TANZANIA has benefited from three Weather and Climate Information Services (WISER) projects: National- WISER, Highway and Multi- Hazard Early Warning System (MHEWS) project respectively, fueled by UKAid and UKMet Office (UKMO).

The projects which began taking shape earliest 2 016 , with no doubt have catapulted a remarkable change in the quality accessibility and use of weather and climate information services at all levels of decision making for sustainable development in Africa and in this case Tanzania respectively.

The Three projects came forth with a unique package that culminated for weather and climate services information consumption to end users, enhancement of the TMA capacity provide weather and climate information but also its application in various parameters and robust dissemination of such services for effective decision making in altering natural hazards impacts and on socio-economic issues over space and time.

The National-WISER project (ongoing) executed by Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA), within the central-zone regions (Dodoma, Singida) and northeast regions, emerged with a clear-cut goal of enhancing weather and information climate services to all information buyers of sort, more importantly changing the way how (TMA) and other end user interact with the information provided and how its utilization can drive better decision making and poverty combating efforts.

Highway project (ongoing) brought to the forefront the ability to research on weather issues, primarily the core understanding and information behind the evolution of extreme weather events occurring within the Lake Victoria basin.

The project spurred interest in how communities and TMA can combat extreme events by having a robust early warning system and to reduce the loss of life attributed by strong winds and flooding.

The Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (MHEWS) which took place in February to December 2016 2 016 focused on improving and enhancing early warning systems, which came to upset the preconceived notions of taking weather issues on a “business as usual” basis, whereby the project is focused strictly in setting up the realistic operations procedures within the respective ministries and other entities to have a common understanding on how to set a useful format for weather information related to warning systems that is understandable to all users.

On the National-Wiser, Dr. Ladislaus Chang’a, Principal Meteorologist and Director of Research and Applied Meteorology from TMA, a critical player exposed the vitality of the project adding “it is an important project for us, as it contributes towards enhancing provision of climate services, enhancing the dissemination and application of climate services”.

Dr. Chang’a relayed the challenge that faces Tanzania within the climate system parameters but also the improvement in the delivery, provision and in the knowledge acquisition of climate services for the enhancement of relaying robust climatic information.

He espoused his concern on how the projects came to tackle the key problems, adding his views on three critical factors, “the need for availability of information, the need enhancing access to information and the need for enhancing application of information, now WISER comes in with the purpose of enhancing climate services to the providers of information but also to enhance the capacity of users so that they may effectively utilize the information disseminated” Dr. Chang’a underlined the vitality of activities occurring within the umbrella of WISER to be focused on improving TMA’s capacity on how they can adequately and effectively produce multi-needed climate information and product in general.

Moreover, the end user’s application of the climate information is on the mark, as Dr. Chang’a elaborates on the vitality of the information received by users to impact socio- economic parameters and enhancing production and productivity over space and time.

On the Highway project, Dr. Chang’a stressed on the vitality of the project to reduce the causality triggered by extreme weather events and improve the resilience of communities within the Lake Victoria basin.

Thus, he highlighted the improved communication capacity and promoting understanding and use of the early warning systems products with relevant, technicians, forecasters, intermediaries and users. On the Multi-hazard Early Warning System, Dr. Chang’a showcased it as a fantastic joint-effort based project, adding that “it put together some tools and improved the standard operations procedures, which catapulted the warning systems in place.”

Mr. Experious Emmanuel an agriculture expert from Ministry of Agriculture Livestock and Fisheries (MALF), within the food security, elaborates on the benefits he has acquired directly as an expert but also to the community, saying“As a food security expert, the project was useful in determining what measures to take in relation to agricultural activities taking place over time and space.

We have now acquired a standard warning system that, helps us in working the hazards to improve our actions towards food security efforts.”

Mr Emmanuel also stressed on improved quality of weather and climate information, from TMA has levitated their efforts in improving food security interventions across the country.

More importantly he added that with the MHEW’s project aspects, the farmers on the ground can know in their owncommon- understanding the causation and synergies of various natural hazards occurring in their areas: ” Weather and climate issues are very dynamic, getting clear information is likely to tackle a dozen issues which can help us (MALF) as well as farmers.”

Musa Habili a Regional Officer In Charge- Tanzania Shipping Agencies Corporation pointed out that “ MHEW project had vital impacts on the community and had relevance in improving their socio-economic activities, but also in understanding stages of the hazards and the warning according to that stage, the precautions to be taken, whereby this reduces losses as well as injuries/death that can happen during such hazardous weather”.

Mr. Habili espressed his delight on the strengthened skills and increased knowledge when dealing with maritime affairs in the light of the MHEW project’s capacity building whereby, adding “ My involvement in the project was beneficial, today both ships and small vessel operators are being warned about any weather hazards that are harmful to the vessels operations and ports operators too, are warned.”

On Disaster Management, Omar Ali Mohammed, Communications and Early Warning Officer for Zanzibar Disaster Management Department espoused the essence of early warning to Zanzibar being very crucial, whereby Mr. Mohammed contributed that “ disaster issues are very challenging especially to an island such as Zanzibar, by knowing the nature and dynamics of disaster provides a clear room for immediate action and mitigation measures, to avert danger associated with them, especially loss of life and widespread of materials”.

Mr. Mohammed, went further and broke down his awareness and skills matching on disaster management improved citing “

In disaster management, two factors are in play: prevention/mitigation and preparedness whereby they are used before a disaster happing, now we are able to get around such phenomenon and know why they happened and how can we act upon them in time”.

Further down the line, Mr. Mohammed who considers himself a fruitful beneficiary of the MHEW project as an expert but also a community member, stressed on added value brought by MHEW project on their methodologies adding “ Here in Zanzibar, we have press releases whenever TMA relays weather concerns, of which are disseminated to all wards and districts, now we are able to go an extra mile and tell these people in a “layman language”, what is happening, why it is occurring now and how can they combat such phenomenon, to us such information is empowerment to the community”.

Enhancement of disaster preparedness methodology is one of the key issues spotted by Mr. Mohammed of which was fused in the ability to comprehend in multi-dimensional aspects the weather and climate information TMA delivers and make informed decision on how to take cover, Mr. Mohammed went further and emphasized on the Zanzibar adding “ before Zanzibar had flooding camps, and right now we have some places run-over by water due to flood, but no flooding camps, this is a sign of progress overtime, as we knew before time and acted accordingly, but also people now know how to prepare themselves, for example, some people find refuge earlies and lives are saved” Mr. Khowe Abraham Malegeri, an expert in Disaster Management Department- Prime Minister’s Office said: “ There are almost 3 4 weather stations in valley/ basins within communities in Liwale-Mtwara, Bahi-Dodoma and Arumeru-Arusha regions, these empower communities to know what is happening within weather parameters and relay early warnings reflecting various possible weather events. ”

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