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Building resilience to climate change: World Bank and AfDB partner to improve hydrological and meteorological systems in Africa


The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the World Bank have completed a seminar on improving the hydrological and meteorological systems in Africa. These are systems for capturing weather and climate data and disseminating information to users for decision support development planning. Coming under the auspices of the recently launched ClimDev-Special Fund (CDSF), the AfDB hosted the World Bank team consisting of Vladimir Tsirkunov and Makoto Suwa from the Hydromet Program at the Global Facility for Disaster Risk Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR).

During discussions chaired by Alex Rugamba, AfDB Director of the Energy, Environment and Climate Change Department, the teams noted that hydrometeorological services were critical in providing vital information to support economic development and build resilience to climate change in many sectors on the continent. Sectors and areas in direct need of these services include disaster risk reduction and management, water, agriculture, transport, energy, public health, climate change adaptation and aviation safety and security. Unfortunately, less than 20% of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHS) are currently providing adequate services for decision-making and development planning, mainly due to weak institutional capacity, degraded infrastructure and inadequate service delivery.

The Bank highlighted that the CDSF grant facility will channel nearly €20 million to support the African Regional Climate Centers to support the installation of regional advanced retransmission systems, numerical weather prediction systems and institutional capacity development. The Bank will also finance the establishment of a regional climate center for Central Africa Region. When completed, this program will facilitate access to real time weather information from satellite systems by the NMHS and promote effective decision-making by users. Ongoing programs of the World Bank include a US $35 million for the Sahel, US $20 million for Malawi and US $21 million for Malawi.

The teams discussed two principal reasons that call for the partnership between the AfDB and the World Bank. First is the dire state of most hydrometeorological services in the continent and the huge financial resources required to improve them, which is currently estimated to be between US $0.8 to $1 billion. A minimum of US $100 to $150 million per year is needed to support operations to modernize the NMH systems in Africa. Second is the need for institutional capacity support and access to advanced technological platform – which calls for a closer collaboration with, for example, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to capitalize on existing instruments like the Global Framework for Climate Services. Continental policy platforms like the African Ministerial Conference on Meteorology (AMCOMET) were identified as critical in mobilizing domestic investments by national governments. 

Both teams agreed to identify appropriate instruments for collaboration that would build synergies, add value to and fully exploit existing institutional instruments. In particular, a tripartite collaborative platform will be explored where the three institutions, the World Bank, the WMO and the AfDB could have regular information exchange, conduct joint analytical works and capacity building and organize joint preparation of modernization projects. Such an arrangement will also support the CDSF and ClimDev-Africa program to mobilize resources and deliver on its operational programs. 

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