Continued investment to help Ethiopia develop better weather, water and disaster management services

On behalf of Sida, SMHI will work for three years to strengthen the capacity of its sister authorities in Ethiopia. This involves supporting the development of information services in weather, water and disaster management, such as warning services. With more knowledge, better systems and more effective communication during weather disasters, more lives can be saved.

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International development cooperation is one of SMHI's prioritized service areas and SMHI is active in several different projects.

- The WACCA-Ethiopia project supports Ethiopia's development of information services in meteorology and hydrology and disaster risk reduction, says Jafet Andersson, project manager at SMHI, who continues:

- The focus is on developing both the technical capacity and the necessary skills. This includes observations, forecasts and early warning systems, as well as improved communication and action when there is a risk of weather-related disasters. These are important elements of climate adaptation, as extreme weather and water conditions are expected to increase with climate change.

Collaborative project with three Ethiopian authorities

WACCA stands for Water and Climate Change Information Services for Africa, and this particular project focuses on Ethiopia. The overall objective of WACCA-Ethiopia is to help develop strong and resilient institutions that provide credible and useful weather, water and disaster risk information to the Ethiopian people.

Phase 1 of the project ran between 2018 and 2022. Phase 2 started in 2023 and runs until 2026. The project is implemented with three Ethiopian partners: the Ethiopian Disaster Risk Management Commission (EDRMC), the Ministry of Water and Energy (MoWE) and the Ethiopian Meteorological Institute (EMI).

Phase 2 started in August 2023

The work of WACCA-Ethiopia focuses on five work packages:

1. Improved meteorological information services

2. Improved hydrological information services

3. Improved communication and disaster risk services

4. Improved data management and information and communication technologies

5. Sustainable institutions and cooperation

Phase 2 was launched in August 2023. Representatives from EDRMC, MoWE, EMI and SMHI met to agree on the structure and to plan future activities. During the autumn, Ethiopian hydrologists visited SMHI in Norrköping to learn the basics of hydrological modeling and visit SMHI's hydrological warning service. In late November/early December, two week-long workshops were held in Addis Ababa: Work package 3 took a look at the current situation and discussed what is missing for the authorities to provide the services they want and what is needed to get there. Work package 1 discussed improving programming skills for meteorological applications (forecasting/analysis) and working on standard operating procedures.

High expectations on the project

- The current challenges of the Ethiopian Disaster Risk Management Commission in communicating weather and water-related disaster risks are mainly good data and information systems and effective communication. Today we do not have a good structure in our data system or information flow, nor do we have good ways to communicate to the grassroots level, says Mrs. Yehwalashet Fulas, agro- meteorologist, EDRMC.

- With the WACCA-Ethiopia project, we expect to improve our data systems and the way we communicate, but also to provide more staff with the training and skills to manage the data from the systems. We need to better communicate the risks to the local population to save lives, says Yehwalashet Fulas.  

Development cooperaration that contribute to global goals

By participating in international development cooperation, SMHI contributes to sustainable development on a global scale. One example is the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are part of the 2030 Agenda. WACCA-Ethiopia contributes directly or indirectly to many of the SDGs, but in particular to Sustainable Cities and Communities (Goal 11), Climate Change (Goal 13) and Peaceful and Inclusive Societies (Goal 16).

Another example is that WACCA-Ethiopia also contributes to the UN's "Early Warning for All" initiative. This initiative aims that by the end of 2027, all people on earth will be protected from dangerous weather, water, or climate events through life-saving early warning systems.

- SMHI contributes to achieving these goals through the projects we are involved in that strengthen weather, water, climate and environmental capacity in low- and middle-income countries. We can also help build forecast and warning services, including underlying systems and methods for data collection, modeling, analysis and communication, says Jafet Andersson.

SMHI contribute with our expertise

Within WACCA-Ethiopia, SMHI and the Ethiopian authorities are now working on the project from their respective home bases, until it is time to meet again in person this spring. From SMHI, experts in hydrology, meteorology, IT, communication and management are participating.