WMO’s 2024 Hydromet Gap Report Highlights Early Warning Needs for Less Developed Countries and Small Island States

3 Jul 2024 by The Water Diplomat

On the 18th of June, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) released its Hydromet Gap Report 2024, highlighting some of the key hydrological knowledge needs of 20 least-developed countries and Small Island Developing States. A key point of departure of the report is that in the context of climate change, the need for high-quality weather and climate information services underpin economic prosperity and sustainable development. The report presents a road map to strengthen the capacity of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services and especially of Early Warning Systems which can facilitate timely warning of extreme weather events.

Hydrometeorological services are both key and transversal elements of national and local planning. The data they produce allows the establishment – amongst others - of meteorological Early Warning Systems. These tools have an impact on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, but also on the UN Secretary General’s Climate Accelerator Programme, which represent the priority actions in the Paris Agreement on climate change, but also Objective G  of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Faced with the importance of the issues mentioned above, the Alliance for the Development of Hydrometeorology was launched during COP 25 in Madrid on climate, on December 10, 2019, in order to intensify and unite the efforts of the different stakeholders concerned. . Its members include the Adaptation Fund, ADB, CIF, EBRD, GEF, Green Climate Fund, IDB, Islamic Development Bank, UNDP, UNEP, WFP and WMO. The Alliance has meanwhile launched the Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF), a specialized UN fund created to fill the gap in climate observation data, particularly in countries furthest behind due to lack of resources, such as Least Developed Countries (LDCs) or Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

It is in this context that the SOFF Steering Committee met for the 8th time, on June 18 and 19, 2024 in Reykjavik, Iceland. This was the occasion for the launch of the 2024 Hydromet Gap Report. This year, the report targeted 20 member countries falling within the category of ‘Less Developed Country’ or ‘Small Island Developing State’ , i.e. Guyana, Cape Verde, Chad, Ethiopia, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Bhutan, Maldives, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Timor Leste.

According to Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group, the document “provides an accurate, up-to-date and comprehensive assessment of the state of national meteorological and hydrological services, and identifies urgent climate-focused investments required by developing countries most affected by extreme weather conditions.

For José Ulisses Correia e Silva, 1st Minister of Cape Verde, “hydrometeorological services play a fundamental role for economic prosperity and resilient development, many countries, including Cape Verde, face considerable challenges in providing them ".

Finally, Celeste Saulo, Secretary General of WMO added that “people and our planet are facing a crisis due to the intersection of inequalities and climate change. This 2024 Hydrometeorology Gap Report shows us where assistance is most needed, where policy support is paramount, and where Hydrometeorology Development Alliance partners should focus their efforts (…). The Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF) is an innovative financing mechanism that supports countries with the most severe weather observation deficits.”

The report highlights a number of current gaps in hydrometeorological systems in these countries. These include a relatively weak observation infrastructure in the sense of the geographical coverage of the data, the degree of maintenance of observation equipment, and the quality of the data. In addition, the report noted insufficiencies in the collection and sharing of basic data. Importantly, also, the report notes that the early warning systems that are in place tend to be inadequate and do not often have impact-based forecasting which is standardised, provides continuous updates and integrates a variety of risk indicators.

As such the road map aims to provide support for sustainable, context-specific and cost-effective solutions, processes and frameworks, including bridging the information and communication technology gap. Strengthening meteorological services and ealy warning systems, the report states, will also also require broader interventions such as the elaboration of appropriate legislation and support for governance mechanisms for hydrometeorological services, as well as the fostering of close cross-sectoral and regional relationships between national stakeholders and local service users, and capacity building.