Thursday, May 19, 2016

Burkina Faso Mission Report

The Burkina Faso Met Service intends to replace their manual stations with AWS.
Synoptic AWS will be installed at 10 manual synoptic stations across the country.
Communication Strategy and Automatic Weather Stations: The Backbone for an Efficient Early Warning System

By Ulrich Diasso

Devastating droughts and floods, inconsistent rain patterns and other extreme weather events are becoming more frequent in the West African nation of Burkina Faso. These events are challenging Burkina’s ability to adapt to climate change and reach development goals.

Improved localized weather observation networks and integrated communication strategies are essential building blocks to improve the nation’s resilience to climate change, create a strong early warning system, foster good decision-making, and protect lives and livelihoods.

Over the past five years, Burkina Faso’s meteorological service has been taking purposeful steps to modernize their observation system. The country recently acquired 150 Adcon Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) and 16 hydrological stations that will fill existing gaps in their monitoring system.

UNDP’s Programme on Climate Information for Resilient Development in Africa (CIRDA) is playing a central role in Burkina’s modernization efforts, offering technical support to the country by helping them to define the technical specifications of new equipment. With 10 new synoptic stations, 40 agro-climatic stations and 100 rain-gauges adding to the mix, Burkina’s hydro-meteorological monitoring system is set to become one of the most substantial in West Africa.

In order to maintain these new systems and ensure proper transmission of early warnings, the Government of Burkina Faso will need to allocate budgetary resources for system maintenance and work with cellphone companies to ensure the automated transfer of data. The Burkina Meteorological Service intends to replace all manual weather and climate monitoring stations with easy-to-maintain Automatic Weather Stations. With support from CIRDA, the Met Service will initiate discussions with local cellphone companies to establish win-win partnerships and reduce the costs of data transfer.

During the recent “Last Mile” workshop in Zambia, the Burkina Faso delegation requested support from the CIRDA programme in building their Standard Operating Protocol (SOP). In response to this request, the April 2016 CIRDA support mission assessed roles and responsibilities, as well as the existing mandates of the various stakeholders involved in Burkina’s Early Warning System. The final goal of the SOP will be to have a common communication platform that involves all the stakeholders, and ensures the effective issuance of early warnings to vulnerable communities across the country.  

The CIRDA support mission also assessed the current status of the project and provided guidance to overcome some persistent challenges. Top recommendations included advice on how to reduce the cost of data transfer via public-private partnerships with telecommunications providers, and the need to review mechanisms for the sustainable maintenance of newly procured monitoring equipment.

An Adcon synoptic automatic weather station installed
at the National Meteorological Service.
Since 2014, 17 AWS are transmitting data
to the met service. Under the CI/EWS project,
150 Adcon AWS will increase coverage up to 70%.
As improved monitoring systems are deployed, the Burkina Met Service will need to integrate the information collected from these stations into forecasts, early warning alerts and other tailored weather products. Ongoing support from the CIRDA programme will include a review of Burkina’s current forecasting system and the finalization of the Terms of Reference for the development of improved forecasting and early warning systems capabilities.

Ulrich Diasso is a Country Support Specialist in Meteorology and Climate Monitoring for the CIRDA programme. Ulrich holds a PhD in Meteorology and Climate Sciences. Besides his role in the CIRDA programme, Ulrich supports climate change assessment at the African Centre of Meteorological Application for Development (ACMAD). He is also member of the Coordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiment (CORDEX) group for model evaluation in Africa.

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