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Automated Weather Stations Enhance Ethiopia’s Climate Risk Data

Ethiopia’s National Meteorological Agency (NMA) has just finishing installing 20 automated weather stations that will send real-time data from pastoral areas to Addis Ababa every 15 minutes.

ADDIS ABABA -- The new stations – the first batch of 50 that are due to be installed by the end of 2011 -- will considerably reinforce Ethiopia’s early warning capacity. This will in turn help to ensure prompt and adequate measures to manage weather-related risk in the country.

The system is very advanced. Data from the 3-metre high devices is sent through the Ethiopian mobile phone network to a server in the capital, where it can be monitored by the NMA experts. WFP, which is donating the stations, selected this particular model after testing several meteorological telemetry products in the field.

“The 20 automated weather stations will help us to provide world-class meteorological services in Ethiopia, which is an important input for implementing the government’s Growth and Transformation Plan,” said NMA Director-General Kidane Assefa.

The newly available weather data will also support the development of innovative projects such as weather insurance schemes for farmers and will provide key information to the LEAP early warning system. LEAP is designed to trigger contingent finance to flexibly scale-up the Productive Safety Net Programme, which is the national, Government–led safety net programme, implemented with support of WFP and several other development partners.

“The stations will allow us to identify climate risks at an early stage and better protect vulnerable, food insecure people in rural areas through innovative projects such as the weather risk insurance,” said Felix Gomez, WFP Ethiopia Acting Country Director.

This initiative is part of the efforts that the WFP’s Ethiopia Country Office, with support from the Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction Office at WFP Headquarters, is providing to the Government of Ethiopia as part of a broad effort to enhance national risk and disaster management capacities.

Of the 20 weather stations that have already been installed, ten are in the Somali Region, five in Eastern Oromia and another five in Afar.

Managing the risk of disasters is one of the five key objectives in WFP’s strategic plan and the weather station initiative is one way of doing this. It’s all part of moving away from managing disasters and moving towards managing risk.  Ultimately, managing risk is the best approach to help Governments to better protect the most vulnerable and food insecure people.