The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) hosted a series of training sessions aimed at strengthening the capacity of technical staff from the Department of Agriculture on Early Warning Early Action interventions to prevent and reduce the impact of climate driven disaster. In addition, FAO provided equipment used to monitor weather patterns in the following locations: Hpa-an and Kyainseikgyi townships, Kayin State; Kyite Ma Yaw and Paung townships, Mon State; and Tanintharyi township in Tanintharyi Region.
The training sessions focused on the use and maintenance of weather sensors to monitor forecasts. The technical staff had the opportunity to review key aspects of data collection, weather data interpretation, and other relevant information that farmers can benefit from to improve their productivity. This training is in line with one of three priority areas of FAO’s in Myanmar, which is to enhance the resilience of local communities and farming households to natural disasters.
According to Emergency Program Coordinator Reda Lebtahi, monitoring weather patterns is important for smallholder farmers, as it helps farmers mitigate the effect of adverse weather conditions. “Weather sensors can detect maximum and minimum temperature, wind speed and direction, humidity, heat index, and rainfall, among others. With a better understanding of weather conditions, smallholder farmers are able to make informed decisions related to their crop agriculture cycle,” he explained.
Extreme weather events have impacted Myanmar in the past. For example, heavy monsoon rains in August 2019 resulted in overflowing rivers, which triggered seasonal floods in many states and regions in Myanmar. According to government data from Department of Agriculture and Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, approximately 83 000 people were displaced in the states and regions of Chin, Kachin, Magway, Mandalay Sagaing, and Rakhine. Reportedly, more than 600 000 acres of paddy fields were flooded, out of which 130 000 acres were damaged. Farmers also lost tools, fertilizer, irrigation systems, fishing nets, traps and boats. Anticipatory action implemented before an extreme weather event occurs can mitigate these damaging effects.
This project is strengthening Early Warning Early Action capacity with the support of the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom. The project also aims to promote the sustainable recovery of communities in flood-affected regions in Myanmar. Early warning systems are critical, as they provide timely and reliable weather information, which smallholder farmers can use to effectively plan for a planting season, thus contributing to the restoration of agricultural production and livelihoods.