Climate Change (134)

ACCRA, Ghana (PAMACC News) - The little steps African countries are taking in transitioning to low emissions pathway are what will see the continent achieve climate compliance by 2030, as called for in the Paris Climate Agreement, says Dr. Richard Munang, UN Environment Africa Regional Climate Change Coordinator.

He believes countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in the areas of agriculture, energy and forestry can be combined to maximize bottom line emissions reduction and amplify socioeconomic benefits of income creation and job opportunities in ancillary sectors popular with engaging the youth, especially ICT.

Dr. Munang was addressing a peer learning and closeout meeting of the EU-UNEP Africa Low Emissions Development Strategies (Africa LEDS) Project in Accra, Ghana, under the theme: “Unlocking Socioeconomic Opportunities Through Low Emissions Development Actions”.

Emphasizing that “there is no beauty but the beauty of action”, Dr. Munang said there is the need for innovative paradigms and actions to accelerate the realization of socioeconomic and climate benefits for the people of Africa.

“The sustainability and longevity of climate actions in the continent depends on how well they demonstrate socio-economic value,” he said. “This is especially so considering that while Africa is negligible emitter, it stands out as the most vulnerable to climate change, with vulnerability driven primarily by the prevailing low levels of socioeconomic development”.

The implementation of the EU-UNEP Africa LEDS project has demonstrated through ground actions and investment support tools, that strategic implementation of NDC priorities aligned to key socioeconomic sectors can maximise both climate and priority socioeconomic benefits simultaneously.

The Project is urging governments in Africa to create an enabling environment for low emissions development strategies uptake, leveraging on strategic implementation of ambitious NDC commitments.

The seven project partner countries include Cameroon, DRC, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique and Zambia.

Ghana, for instance, is of the firm belief that tacking climate change would help strengthen the resilience of the economy against shocks.

The current national development plan for Ghana, therefore, recognizes climate change as one of the developmental challenges and has developed policy interventions to address it in the medium-term.

“The policies set out in the national development plan informed the adaptation and mitigation actions that Ghana put forward in the first-round of its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs),” said John Pwamang, Acting Executive Director of Ghana’s Environmental Protection Agency.

He observed that though Ghana’s share of global greenhouse gas emissions is low, the mitigation measures being implemented are aligned to the low emission trajectory of the EU-UNEP Africa LEDS Project.

The Project is premiering LEDS modeling as a direct enabler of socio-economic development with actions targeted at sectors that could unlock socioeconomic development opportunities alongside offsetting carbon.

Susana Martins, Programmes Officer, Infrastructure and Sustainable Development at European Union Delegation to Ghana, emphasized the commitment of the EU to finance climate change interventions in Africa.

“We are committed to the implementation of projects on climate change,” she said.

The Africa LEDS Project is a partnership between the European Commission, UNEP, the LEDS Global Partnership, Africa LEDS Partnership and seven collaborating countries. The project has enabled significant progress on low carbon transformation in Africa.


Weather forecasting has never been an easy feat. Just as experts argue, it is the science of attempting to predict something that is inherently unpredictable. But technological advances are breaking new ground in terms of gathering more accurate data. One of these is using the Aircraft Meteorological Data Relay (AMDAR) system. ALI B RAMTU, the Senior Acting Director in charge of aeronautical and meteorological services at the Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) shared with PAMACC how AMDAR might change this.

What is AMDAR?

AMDAR stands for Aircraft Meteorological Data Relay. This is an observation of meteorological parameters by aircraft when they are taking off, cruising and also landing.
They measure some of the meteorological parameters and then relay the data to KMD via servers.

This helps in embedding this information to other observations for better forecasting. It is an addition of the data observation network.

As you may know, KMD is currently relying on surface data observations from various weather stations.

KMD has quite a number of weather stations across the country. AMDAR will be a plus because it will provide some of the upper air observations that we lack at KMD to enhance our services.
It is also meant to improve products that we were giving to the aviation industry, Kenya Airways being one of them.

The aviation industry has challenges like experiencing fog in the morning. When this happens, they have to divert to other alternate airports and aerodromes. For that, they incur costs.

But with the improved product they will be alerted earlier. When they delay the flight by, say, 10 minutes to allow the fog to clear, then they will not incur those diversionary costs.

It is better to delay or cancel a flight and cut costs.

The other thing is that when data comes to our archive and system it will be fed to other sectors.

How long has AMDAR been operational?

AMDAR is not really new. Currently KMD is receiving some of the observations by AMDAR but not to the level that is adequate.

This is because there are few aircraft with the specific software and capability to provide this information. There are very few aircrafts in Kenyan airspace which have this capacity.
Bu with this kind of collaboration between Kenya Airways and KMD, we want to provide the capability to more aircrafts at the national carrier to be able to do the observation.

We are doing this by procuring some of the necessary software.

How are you procuring the software?

We are trying to procure the software through outsourcing.

There are some specific technology firms with this software whom we will enlist for this project.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has provided funds to KMD to facilitate procurement of this software from designated firms or companies.

The firms will install this technology in particular aircrafts at Kenya Airways.
This collaboration is between WMO, KMD and Kenya Airways. Each party is playing a role.

How much funding has been injected into this project?

I might not be in a position to give a particular figure. The finance team can do this.
But what we know is that WMO has partnered with KMD and Kenya Airways to provide funding.

This funding is not wholesome. It comes in bits as per how the project is progressing. Different aspects of this project are funded in phases.
There is the communication phase which involves installation of the servers and communication links.

There is the phase of purchasing of software to be installed in the aircrafts.
Then there will also be funding for training some of the experts who are supposed to handle this project.

These include information communication technology personnel, data processing personnel, forecasters, and even the technicians.

All these are embedded into the expense roll of this particular project.
The communication link between aircrafts and KMD servers is also another phase that is supposed to be funded.

It will come after the installation of software and other recurrent expenditure.

When did the partnership between KMD and Kenya Airways begin?

It started since 2015 when we had the first inception workshop.

What inspired this partnership?

It is a requirement for WMO member countries to be equipped with all hydrological and meteorological services. Innovation and technological advances improve weather forecasting.

There is also the need to enhance data acquisition. This is because the method we have been using of raising balloons was becoming too expensive for these services to be undertaken.
B

ut with this collaboration we can use aircraft to get the same data in the upper air without incurring costs that go with the radio sounding equipment.

What are some of the challenges you have gone through?

As you may know, KMD is a government agency.
There were lapses in the process of procuring some of the softwareafter the project was initiated.

This is because the firms which were supposed to provide the software for installation in the aircrafts were single sourced.

This has brought some hiccups which we are trying to see how we can overcome.
The government’s procuring process is different from Kenya Airways and other private companies.

Kenya Airways has been dealing with these firms. According to the rules and conditions, a third party cannot be brought into this process.

The firms which were doing maintenance at Kenya Airways are the same ones which are supposed to provide and install the software.

Immediately we overcome this bottleneck I am sure the process will move with the required success rate.

Some trainings have been done but others are yet to take place.

What is the timeline of the project?

It was supposed to be a two year project but we requested for an extension due to the above mentioned challenges.

The extension is for 15 months. The implementation phase started in 2017 and was supposed to end in December2019.

The 15 months extension will go up to December 2020. But we are yet to be granted that request.

What is your personal take about project?

As a Kenyan I will be very glad to receive an improved weather product and weather information which I am not provided with currently.

With initiation of this kind of project, I am sure there will be quite a number of weather products which will be beneficial not only to the aviation sector but to all sectors which rely on weather information and products.

It will improve the services atKMD and will actually enhance effectiveness in terms of serving Kenyans and all the cross cutting sectors.

KMD is an institution concerned with the environment. Each and every sector talks about the environment and climate change because these are cross cutting issues.

If we can be able to improve weather forecasting services, then definitely we will have improved all sectors of our economy.

All the forecasts rely on daily observations. It is these daily observations that are run for several years to give seasonal forecasts.

Information from the AMDAR system will improve daily forecasts, weekly forecasts and even seasonal forecasts with the passage of time.

As you know, weather has no boundaries. But with AMDAR we can be able to study it as an aircraft cruises all over space and provide that information to our servers.

We shall be in a better position to do air observations all over space. We will be able to know the effects of other weather systems which might affect Kenyans at large.

What are your closing remarks?

This is a very important project. It has its challenges but we will not tire. We will strive to better our services.

We trust our financiers to make this happen.

It will be successful and we hope even the government will embrace and hopefully, fund it.
This is especially in the areas of recurrent expenditure which are expected to increase as data continues trailing into our servers.


Weather forecasting has never been an easy feat. Just as experts argue, it is the science of attempting to predict something that is inherently unpredictable. But technological advances are breaking new ground in terms of gathering more accurate data. One of these is using the Aircraft Meteorological Data Relay (AMDAR) system. ALI B RAMTU, the Senior Acting Director in charge of aeronautical and meteorological services at the Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) shared with PAMACC how AMDAR might change this.

What is AMDAR?

AMDAR stands for Aircraft Meteorological Data Relay. This is an observation of meteorological parameters by aircraft when they are taking off, cruising and also landing.
They measure some of the meteorological parameters and then relay the data to KMD via servers.

This helps in embedding this information to other observations for better forecasting. It is an addition of the data observation network.

As you may know, KMD is currently relying on surface data observations from various weather stations.

KMD has quite a number of weather stations across the country. AMDAR will be a plus because it will provide some of the upper air observations that we lack at KMD to enhance our services.
It is also meant to improve products that we were giving to the aviation industry, Kenya Airways being one of them.

The aviation industry has challenges like experiencing fog in the morning. When this happens, they have to divert to other alternate airports and aerodromes. For that, they incur costs.

But with the improved product they will be alerted earlier. When they delay the flight by, say, 10 minutes to allow the fog to clear, then they will not incur those diversionary costs.

It is better to delay or cancel a flight and cut costs.

The other thing is that when data comes to our archive and system it will be fed to other sectors.

How long has AMDAR been operational?

AMDAR is not really new. Currently KMD is receiving some of the observations by AMDAR but not to the level that is adequate.

This is because there are few aircraft with the specific software and capability to provide this information. There are very few aircrafts in Kenyan airspace which have this capacity.
Bu with this kind of collaboration between Kenya Airways and KMD, we want to provide the capability to more aircrafts at the national carrier to be able to do the observation.

We are doing this by procuring some of the necessary software.

How are you procuring the software?

We are trying to procure the software through outsourcing.

There are some specific technology firms with this software whom we will enlist for this project.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has provided funds to KMD to facilitate procurement of this software from designated firms or companies.

The firms will install this technology in particular aircrafts at Kenya Airways.
This collaboration is between WMO, KMD and Kenya Airways. Each party is playing a role.

How much funding has been injected into this project?

I might not be in a position to give a particular figure. The finance team can do this.
But what we know is that WMO has partnered with KMD and Kenya Airways to provide funding.

This funding is not wholesome. It comes in bits as per how the project is progressing. Different aspects of this project are funded in phases.
There is the communication phase which involves installation of the servers and communication links.

There is the phase of purchasing of software to be installed in the aircrafts.
Then there will also be funding for training some of the experts who are supposed to handle this project.

These include information communication technology personnel, data processing personnel, forecasters, and even the technicians.

All these are embedded into the expense roll of this particular project.
The communication link between aircrafts and KMD servers is also another phase that is supposed to be funded.

It will come after the installation of software and other recurrent expenditure.

When did the partnership between KMD and Kenya Airways begin?

It started since 2015 when we had the first inception workshop.

What inspired this partnership?

It is a requirement for WMO member countries to be equipped with all hydrological and meteorological services. Innovation and technological advances improve weather forecasting.

There is also the need to enhance data acquisition. This is because the method we have been using of raising balloons was becoming too expensive for these services to be undertaken.
B

ut with this collaboration we can use aircraft to get the same data in the upper air without incurring costs that go with the radio sounding equipment.

What are some of the challenges you have gone through?

As you may know, KMD is a government agency.
There were lapses in the process of procuring some of the softwareafter the project was initiated.

This is because the firms which were supposed to provide the software for installation in the aircrafts were single sourced.

This has brought some hiccups which we are trying to see how we can overcome.
The government’s procuring process is different from Kenya Airways and other private companies.

Kenya Airways has been dealing with these firms. According to the rules and conditions, a third party cannot be brought into this process.

The firms which were doing maintenance at Kenya Airways are the same ones which are supposed to provide and install the software.

Immediately we overcome this bottleneck I am sure the process will move with the required success rate.

Some trainings have been done but others are yet to take place.

What is the timeline of the project?

It was supposed to be a two year project but we requested for an extension due to the above mentioned challenges.

The extension is for 15 months. The implementation phase started in 2017 and was supposed to end in December2019.

The 15 months extension will go up to December 2020. But we are yet to be granted that request.

What is your personal take about project?

As a Kenyan I will be very glad to receive an improved weather product and weather information which I am not provided with currently.

With initiation of this kind of project, I am sure there will be quite a number of weather products which will be beneficial not only to the aviation sector but to all sectors which rely on weather information and products.

It will improve the services atKMD and will actually enhance effectiveness in terms of serving Kenyans and all the cross cutting sectors.

KMD is an institution concerned with the environment. Each and every sector talks about the environment and climate change because these are cross cutting issues.

If we can be able to improve weather forecasting services, then definitely we will have improved all sectors of our economy.

All the forecasts rely on daily observations. It is these daily observations that are run for several years to give seasonal forecasts.

Information from the AMDAR system will improve daily forecasts, weekly forecasts and even seasonal forecasts with the passage of time.

As you know, weather has no boundaries. But with AMDAR we can be able to study it as an aircraft cruises all over space and provide that information to our servers.

We shall be in a better position to do air observations all over space. We will be able to know the effects of other weather systems which might affect Kenyans at large.

What are your closing remarks?

This is a very important project. It has its challenges but we will not tire. We will strive to better our services.

We trust our financiers to make this happen.

It will be successful and we hope even the government will embrace and hopefully, fund it.
This is especially in the areas of recurrent expenditure which are expected to increase as data continues trailing into our servers.

 

LUANDA, Kenya (PAMACC News) - At 11 O’clock in Essong’olo village in the heart of Vihiga County, 400 kilometres west of Kenya’s capital Nairobi, Philemon Echoka sits under a mango tree to listen to his favorite weekly radio programme – ‘farming in the face of climate change.’

He increases the volume of his yellow coloured solar powered FM radio as Moses Ombogo, the broadcaster at Anyole Radio introduces his guest-Japheth Manga Amutete – in a local Luhya dialect called Olunyole. And on this particular morning, the subject of discussion is ‘aquaculture as a method of adapting to climate change.’

Anyole Radio, run by the Nganyi RANET Community Radio Station in Western Kenya is one of five community radio stations established by the Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) in different parts of the country prone to different climate stresses to help locals understand the prevailing climate and weather patterns so as to develop resilience.

The Nganyi community members are renowned rainmakers in Vihiga County. Their traditional methods of weather forecasts have since attracted the attention of international researchers, who have concluded that blending traditional weather predictions with modern science may provide a more accurate forecast. It is based on this kind of knowledge that Anyole Radio was launched on March 23, 2015 to disseminate weather and climate information across the entire Vihiga County and to parts of the neighbouring counties that include Kakamega, Busia and Kisumu counties.

But before the discussion begins on this day on Ombogo’sprogramme, the announcer takes time to read out the weather forecast for the week, revealing that despite of it being late, the long rainfall season will delay even further, and that farmers must start using climate smart techniques to adapt to the changing climatic conditions.

“That is one of the reasons why we have Amutete in the studio today, to discuss how smallholder farmers can start up fish farming projects for extra income generation,” announces Ombogo using the Olunyole dialect.

“This programme has always been a blessing to me,” said Echoka, who ownsa two-acre piece of land in Vihiga and another of the same size in Nangili in Kakamega County, still in thewestern part of the country.

Generally, the community radio station was targeted to reach out to 250,000 members of the Abanyole community, but with its infiltration to neighbouring counties, it ends up serving tens of thousands more who can understand the local dialect. The dialect can be understood by nearly all Luhya speaking individuals.

Within the entire Luhya community Kakamega has 1,660,651 people, second to Nairobi with 3,138,369, Bungoma (1,374,477), Busia (743,946) and Vihiga (554,622) as per the country’s last round of census.

So far in his Kakamega farm, Echoka is taking advantage of the dry spell to make money as other farmers keep staring at the azure blue skies, praying for the heavens to open for the elusive rains to come down.

“From my savings, I bought a 6,000-litreportable water tank trailer, and for sure, having such equipment is the easiest way of making money at a time when everyone is complaining of the dry spell,” he said.

As people in Kakamega wait for the rains to come, others have been using Echoka’s portable water tank trailerto fetch water for irrigation especially for vegetable gardens, while others use the same to fetch water for construction among other uses, earning the farmer up to $100 (Sh10,000) per week.

“I charge betweento $30-40 (Sh3000 and Sh4000) per single supply depending on the distance from the river,” said Echoka.

This is one of the ideas that the farmer learned from Anyole radio a few years ago, during a discussion on how people can take advantage of the tough climatic conditions to generate income. “For me, the drought is a blessing in disguise. But when it starts raining, I will do what everyone does; plant crops,” said Echoka.

To others, especially the elderly people, the prevailing climatic conditions are something completely new to them. “I have never experienced what the country is going through today,” said Matthias Wanzala, 89 years from Mungakha village, Matungu in Kakamega . “Since I was a small boy, the month of April was always a month for rainfall,” he said.

On this day’s programme on Anyole Radio, Amutete is talking about fish farming, how to construct a good fish pond, the hygienic standards, how to make fish feeds from locally available resources, and how to keep predators away from the fish ponds.

But at the same time, he is faced with tough questions from listeners who are calling in, and they want to know if fish diseases exist, how to know that fish is sick, and how sick fish are treated.

On his farm in Ebulonga village in Vihiga County, the 56 year-old retired civil servant keeps 10,000 tilapia and catfishfingerlings in eight fish ponds that use water from a nearby water spring called Wamanga.

“I have already harvested five times and in the next two months, two of my ponds will be ready for harvesting,” said Amutete.

He now dreams of keeping the Nile Perch, a freshwater carnivorous fish species that grows very fast, and could be ideal for quick income generation. “I am still doing my feasibility study to see if Nile Perch can thrive on this farm,” he said.

Through trial and error and use of traditional knowledge, the retiredgovernment officer has perfected the aquaculture skill, and he has been sharing the knowledge through the community radioprogrammes.

“Whenever we are discussing such a topic, people call in and some of the callers happen to be experts in this particular field. So, I also get to learn a lot from them,” said the farmer during an interview next to his fish ponds in Ebulonga village.

At the Nganyi RANET Community Radio Station, the KMD has already built and equipped a resource centre together with a library, a climate information center, and a community computer centre, all with support from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an eight-country African trade bloc.

According to Dr Byron Anangwe of the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD), having accurate weather forecast is extremely important, but it becomes meaningless if it is notavailed to the people who need it.

“Communities can only adapt to the prevailing climatic conditions only if they have access to real-time weather forecasting, long-term drought prediction tools, and advanced water monitoring systems among other useful hydromet services,” saidAnangwe.

According to Dr James Murombedzi, the Officer in Charge at the Africa Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) “Africa’s economies are dependent on climate change-related fields like agriculture and need relevant and timely climate information services that can be translated into decision-making tools to budget for climate disruptions,” he told PAMACC News during a Climate Information Services (CIS) workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Through the 2014 Africa Agriculture Status Report (AASR) the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) underscores that rapid and uncertain changes in precipitation and temperature patterns in sub-Saharan Africa threaten food production and increase the vulnerability of smallholder farmers, which can result in food price shocks and increased rural poverty.

“Many times we have incurred losses due to delayed rainfall seasons, or sometimes when the rains come too early when we are not ready for planting,” said Esther Otinga from Ebusiratsi in Vihiga.

The mother of three school going children recalls the losses she incurred when she planted based on traditional knowledge in 2011. “Since I was a child, the long rain season always begun between the 23rd and 25th of March every year, and so on 25th that year, there were all signs of rainfall, and I planted maize on the entire four acre piece of land, and another two acre piece elsewhere in anticipation that it would rain any time,” she said.

But two weeks later, there was no rainfall. She ended up losing the seed, the fertilizer, and the money she had used to pay six casual labourers who had helped her in the exercise.

Since then, she has been a keen follower of weather forecasts and advisories through local and community media so as to make informed decisions on her farm.

“I thank God that several FM stations have emerged, and through them we get to learn about the prevailing weather and climatic conditions,” said Otinga.

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