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A regional analysis of weather, climate, and early warning services in Southern Africa: Status quo and proposed actions

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The study aims to explore three major objectives in view of the increasing in frequency and intensity of natural hazards in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. Firstly, gain a better understanding of the status of the hydromet services in the different SADC Member States; secondly, identify challenges that could best be addressed with a regional approach; and thirdly, identify needs for strengthening hydromet services with a specific focus on early warning services.The entire region is affected (in descending order of exposure) by droughts, floods, cyclones, and earthquakes and warming over the region is faster than the global average. Meteorological, climatological, and hydrological services, in this context referred to jointly as “hydromet services”, play an important role in providing timely and adequate information for early warning. Early warning can save lives and will improve the management of sectors of the economy, such as agriculture, industry, power production and transport.

The report finds that there is a dire need to strengthen hydromet services in Southern Africa and this requires substantial investments and concerted efforts from governments, development partners and the private sector. Regional cooperation between the various role players in the hydromet value chain is a key success driver for improving hydromet services and early warning systems in the region. Differences in climate, organizational structure, existing hydromet value chain, potential partnerships with the private sector and available financial and human resources all need to be considered for a detailed design of country-level investments and actions. The modernization of hydromet and early warning services in Southern Africa should also complement and leverage ongoing initiatives for greater effect. While a program for modernizing hydromet and early warning services in Southern Africa should be the joint effort of national governments, regional organisations, including SADC and River Basin Organisations, private sector and development partners and be part of the global structure, such as GBON.