Statement of Dr. Wafayezada, Deputy on Policy and Planning of ACAA to the 3th Ministerial Meeting of the Regional Integrated MULTI-HAZARD Early Warning System (RIMES) in port Morseby Papua New Guinea, 25 August 2017

Mr. Chairman, Dr. Subbiah, Honorable Ministers, PNG Gov. Officials, distinguished dignities,

Ladies and Gentlemen!

First I would like to extend my gratefulness to the PNG government for hosting this important event and for their warm hospitality. Aslo, thanks to Dr. Subbiah and his colleagues in RIMES for their hard and dedicated work in arranging this event.

We all may agree that climate change is affecting all countries and poses a great challenge for meteorological agencies as known patterns of forecast changes and natural hazards increase. Given the vulnerability of the poor countries due to lack of proper infrastructure and meteorological services, the consequences are felt more severely in these countries than others.

Having in mind the global concerns and the necessity to reduce vulnerability to natural hazards and minimize its impacts, RIMES can play an important role in providing a common ground for coordination, cooperation and collaboration for having an integrated multi-hazard early warning system. Therefore, we urge the international community, member states and the donors to appreciate the RIMES platform as an established cooperation and coordination mechanism that allow all actors to join forces and exchange information and accordingly coordinate their practical measures. We believe that this platform is efficient and cost effective for coping the natural hazards and reducing the impacts of climate change in a regional context.

Afghanistan in its part has been affected by global warming and climate change issues with continuous drought and anomaly in seasonal rainfall. Naturally, the country is highly exposed to hydro-meteorological hazards, which has claimed more than 30,000 lives, and affected more than 8 million Afghan citizens in last 30 years (1985-2016) according to the International Disaster Database, mostly due to lack of effective National Hydrological and Meteorological Services (NMHS) and early warning capabilities.

Given the destructive effects of over three decades of war, rebuilding the early warning system as well as response agencies has not been an easy task.

Currently, there is a minister of the state on prevention of natural hazards that more or less act as response agency together with other relief organizations and associations. Afghanistan’s meteorological agency (AMD) that operates under the umbrella of Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority is responsible for providing meteorological services according to WMO and ICAO standards to all users.

In spite of the urgency of functional meteorological services, less attention has been paid to this issue in the past one and half decade. Partly, because donors has been more focused on relief and response than preventive measures and early warning system. It was just in the recent years, especially after the establishment of the ACAA in 2013 that focus shifted from relief and response to preventive measures and consequently we took initiatives to enhance the capabilities within the AMD that would enable it to fill the void and provide necessary meteorological services through a functional early warning system.

With the support of WMO, we have developed a five-year strategic plan (2017-2021) for AMD which foresee a full functioning meteorological agency for Afghanistan and to renew our infrastructure by providing capacity building, installation of new Automated Weather Observation System(AWOS) to have a standard meteorological network, using new technology for meteorological network and visualization, digitalization of data collection according WMO standards, connection to Global Telecommunication Services(GTS) and many other issues.

An important objective is to strengthen AMD through integration of different agencies. Currently different ministries have their own meteorological departments. For example, under a World Bank project, Ministry of Energy and Water has installed 26 AWOS and plans to install another 26 by the end of 2017. Similarly, Ministry of Agriculture has a department of agricultural meteorology as well. Our goal is to bring all of them under the umbrella of AMD that would allow it to combine all available personnel and technical capacities in order to provide metrological services in a user friendly manner and satisfy the existing needs in this area. 

To date, AMD has 28 stations in 28 provinces out of 34 provinces. Most of the stations currently use manual and old data gathering, archiving and dissemination methods. Only 6 AWOS are installed around the country and under the WMO project, another 6 AWOS are planned to be installed by the end of this year.

Today, we have a well equipped forecast center at the AMD headquarters in Kabul, which is expected to provide full meteorological services with the installation of new AWOS and the possible integration of other similar departments. On 14 August 2017, the Afghanistan Meteorological Department (AMD) issued its first flood early warning for the country’s south and southeast regions. The following day, meteorological satellite images verified that AMD’s forecast was accurate. AMD can now receive satellite images and products from Meteosat-8, a EUMETSAT operational geostationary satellite located over the Indian Ocean.

But we have a long way until we could set-up a multi-hazard early warning system and provide necessary meteorological services as required and needed. Therefore, we welcome RIMES integrated system as cost-effective and as a fast-track to acquire the capacity and benefit from its products; therefore we initialized the Agreement with RIMES yesterday, which will come to effect after due internal process.   

I conclude my statement with cordial thanks to our colleagues in the RIMES secretariat for their hard work and well arranged conference. We welcome support in strengthening multi-hazard end-to-end early warning system in Afghanistan that provides actionable risk/ warning information with a users focused approach.

Thank you very much