By Elias Hakizimana.
The minister of environmeny Dr Vincent Biruta has encouraged different stakeholders in weather predictions to explore ways to improve the quality, packaging and delivery of climate information so that it is gender sensitive and suits the needs of diverse users.
He was speaking during the 50th Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook in Kigali.
“Most countries in the Greater Horn of Africa are heavily dependent on rain-fed agriculture. Rwanda is no different. This makes climate and weather predictions a concern for us all – from policy makers to farmers.
It is for this reason that Regional Climate Outlook Forums are so important. By providing consensus on seasonal outlooks, climate sensitive socio-economic sectors can be better supported to build resilience for sustainable development,” he said.
Regional Climate Outlook Forums also aspire to develop an improved, proactive, timely and broad-based system of information and product dissemination and feedback at the regional scale.
This information, the minister said, is incredibly valuable and assists policy makers in planning and decision-making.
And to ensure this information is reaching those who need it most, we must continue to build stronger links with users and develop new forecast products tailored to their needs, he noted.
“In Rwanda, the impact of the forum has been seen in an increased awareness and demand for climate services. This has helped to build the understanding that climate information, including short-range predictions, is an essential element to adapt to the impacts of climate change,” he said.
In this way, he added, the Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum has demonstrated the shared benefits of using climate services in decision making for socio-economic development.
“Much as climate scientists have the responsibility to produce forecasts, warnings and offer advice, we must engage with users so they can tell us the types of information services they require. We must embrace co-production and foster closer relationships with users of climate services,” Biruta said.
The experts in forum will also produce the regional climate outlook is an important input for detailed forecasts at the national level.
“Rwanda recently faced devastating floods that resulted in the tragic loss of hundreds of lives. We are also experiencing more droughts, which put farmers under immense financial and emotional pressure.
Undoubtedly the result of climate change, these and similar experiences in all corners of the globe call for a paradigm shift in how we research and respond to changes in microclimates prone to dry spells and other climatic disasters,” he witnessed.
The regional forecast you will issue will support these efforts by enabling us to develop early warnings at the local level, which have the potential to save lives, and livelihoods, he adde.
The minister urged climate scientists to down scale the regional forecast to national, sub-national, and local levels for it to be meaningful in risk reduction and advised meteorology agencies to present the forecast in an actionable manner.
“With support from our partners, the Rwanda Meteorology Agency has begun providing forecasts in a more flexible manner through an interactive web portal. Today, a farmer can assess the probability that total rainfall for the coming season will be above a given amount and decide whether it would be adequate to grow a certain crop,” the official said.
We must continue to develop innovations like this so that the rich and detailed information you work hard to produce has the real world impact it deserves. To achieve this, let us engage in a robust dialogue and develop an accurate forecast for the socio-economic benefit of everyone living in our region, he stressed.
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