Friday, March 19, 2010

Sub-regional Meeting Adopts Banjul Action Plan 2010

NEWS BANJUL THE GAMBIA(MB)-The sub-regional meeting of heads of meteorological services in West Africa, as well as representatives of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and the meteorological agency of the Kingdom of Spain ended at the Kairaba Beach Hotel on 5th February, with the adoption of the Banjul Action Plan 2010.
News and Report interviewed Bernard Gomez, permanent representative of The Gambia at the WMO, on the Banjul Action Plan 2010 and the deliberations of the 1 to 5 February meeting of Directors of West African national meteorological hydrological services (NMHS) in Banjul.
According to Mr. Gomez, the first two days of the meeting centered on resource mobilization for the sub-region meteorological services.
He added that some countries in the sub region are finding it difficult to mobilize resources for their operations, adding that "we really need resources to do our work effectively, but lack of enough resources is making our work difficult every day".
It was against this background that during the first two days, they deliberated on resource mobilization, he added, pointing out that some of the poorest countries are finding it difficult to mobilize resources, including the Gambia.
According to Mr. Gomez, meteorological services in West Africa are not having support like other sectors, and he called on donors, governments and individuals to give support.
"Meteorological services in West Africa are really finding it difficult to mobilize resources, and without resources it is difficult to carry out our work effectively", he repeated.
Gomez thanked WMO and the Kingdom of Spain for funding the meeting, and all the West African countries “for their very positive participation”.
During the last three days of the meeting, Mr. Gomez explained, there was a revision of the Las Palmas Action Plan, which was done in Niamey 2007, and the adoption of the Banjul Action Plan 2010.
Members agreed ongoing and additional actions and mechanisms for cooperation during 2010, he revealed, further noting that the meeting added some new areas in the Banjul Action Plan such as climate and health, specific capacity building and training activities, tools for management and planning.
The meeting, he went on, also considered a new organizational structure for activities in three strategic areas, in addition to the programme monitoring activities, that is core technical, applied technical, and management capacity building activities.
Core technical capacity building will include observation, weather watch i.e. data collection, weather monitoring, and forecasting. Climate activities include climate change monitoring, reports, databases and climate services.
For the management capacity building activities, the aim is to strengthen management practices improvement, mobilization of resources initiatives support, marketing and others.
According to Mr. Gomez, the meeting of Directors of the West African NMHS also focused on the cooperation agreement with the Kingdom of Spain and WMO for NMH services in the sub region.
The agreement, he pointed out, started in 2007 with merely focusing on strengthening meteorological services in West Africa.
The Banjul Action Plan, Mr. Gomez said, out-lines four key areas, that is, agricultural meteorology, marine meteorology, climate and health, and management skills.
Explaining agricultural meteorology, he said activities are in the form of a regional project focused on strengthening surface observation networks and other use of simplified rain gauges to elaborate and disseminate information to farmers and decision makers, and to partners such as WMO and national MHS.
Marine meteorology, he said, concerns implementation of a pilot project according to the four-year Marine Met-Ocean Project (monitoring and services from the North West Africa Basin and Macronesia).
Phase one of the project includes countries like Senegal, Mauritania, Cape Verde and The Gambia, with the addition of Guinea and Guinea Bissau later, and expansion to other countries in the Gulf of Guinea to be considered.
Management skills, he added, concerns enhancing capacity of NMHS in advocacy for increased political support and financing to the NMHS within the national context.
It also relates to the hosting of a workshop focused on resource mobilization, creating and tutoring a management course in French by e-learning for NMHS, directors and managers and WMO e-learning platform usage on technical and management issues.
According to Mr. Gomez, providing weather reports on a daily basis is a common problem for many countries like The Gambia, but not a problem for countries like Ghana and Nigeria as they have many reports daily.
"For The Gambia, we have only one report for the day, aired over GRTS-TV, which should not be the case". He went on, "we need to have funds for the meteorological services to be reporting the weather forecast from morning to night continuously in the day".
He said that it is through forecasting that one can know whether it is going to be sunny and hot for the day, adding that in many places around the world, a daily forecast is available. It is through the forecast also that one can know the air-quality conditions and weather of the day, he added.
Meteorologists, he asserted, have been working with scientists in many disciplines for decades to improve on local and regional forecasts, and know how to turn the data into useful information for the public.

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