Climate data is critical for national devt

On Wednesday, this week, I had the pleasure of participating in a joint occasion to launch the Enhancing National Climate Services Programme of Rwanda Meteorology Agency and the Rwanda Climate Services for Agriculture: Empowering Farmers to Manage Risk and Adapt to a Changing Climate in Rwanda. 

Climate information plays a crucial role in national development planning, managing climate risks and maximising opportunities.

Availability of decision-relevant climate information about the past climate, recent trends, likely future trajectories, and associated impacts is a prerequisite for climate-informed decision making.

Rwanda Meteorology Agency is the main provider of climate information and weather stations are the main sources of climate and weather data in the country.

In this regard, one of our major challenges has been a 15-year gap in observations from 1994 to 2009, a result of Rwanda’s recent traumatic history that had weather stations’ infrastructure at near collapse.

This gap has been a serious challenge in the effort to reconstruct a long historical time series and provide the required services.

To overcome this, the Rwanda Meteorology Agency, in collaboration with the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) and its partners, has made progress to fill the data gaps thorough IRI’s ENACTS (Enhancing National Climate Services) initiative.

As, a result of the ENACTS initiative implemented at Meteo Rwanda, we have now complete rainfall and temperature data for every 5-kilometre grid across Rwanda.

The availability of this high-resolution, spatially and temporally continuous climate data is transformative and will be critical for delivering climate information at the community level.

However, availability of climate data may not necessarily lead to their uptake by itself. Climate information must be made available to users and users need to be engaged on the value and application of climate information products.

The ENACTS initiate has also enabled Meteo Rwanda to provide access to varieties of climate information products through the Internet.

Building on the innovative data sets and information products developed by ENACTS, the Rwanda Climate Services for Agriculture project, that is being launched today, will enable Meteo Rwanda to provide climate information on agriculture at different levels (from farmers to government ministries).

This will empower farmers to manage climate risk and adapt to a hanging climate.

It will help improve agricultural planning and food security management, at both local and central government levels.

By the end of the project period, nearly a million farmers will have timely access to useful climate services. They will have better opportunities to transform their livelihoods through improved agricultural productivity.

The agricultural planners, policy makers, investors, and food security specialists will be able to respond more effectively to droughts, floods and other climate-related risks.

I understand that at the end of the project, a national network of climate services will be operational, with key national agencies able to sustainably deliver climate services to farmers.

I want to thank IRI and the Africa Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) for supporting the implementation of ENACTS in Rwanda. I would also like to thank USAID Rwanda for funding the new project and sponsoring the launch.

This article has been extracted from the remarks by the Director General, Rwanda Metrological Agency, John Ntaganda Semafara at the launch of a programme to enhance national climate services.