World Food Programme: The Science behind Saving and Changing Lives

Reflecting on the critical role of WFP and national governments in anticipating severe weather events and protecting vulnerable communities from the impacts of climate change.

You can find the publication of WFP here, and download the factsheet here.

23 March 2023, World Meteorological Day. For WFP, this is an opportunity to reflect on the crucial role that national meteorological and hydrological services (NMHS) play in anticipating severe weather events and protecting the lives and livelihoods of communities worldwide, particularly those vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Skillful and timely weather and climate information provided by NMHS is critical for anticipating and preparing for predictable extreme weather events, such as droughts, floods, heatwaves and cyclones, that can have devastating impacts on food production and food security.

WFP works with NMHSs, as well as with disaster management agencies and communities, to strengthen climate information services and early warning systems to deliver climate information and last-mile early warning messages to those who are most at risk. By doing so, WFP is helping to avoid losses and damages, and build the resilience of vulnerable communities to the climate crisis.

One of the many examples is the support WFP is providing to the National Meteorological Service of Mozambique, (INAM). WFP has been supporting INAM since 2018 with projects to strengthen Mozambique’s national forecasting and weather-monitoring systems. Some of the initiatives include digitizing over 40 years of weather data, installing rain gauges and automatic weather stations, creating a seasonal monitoring system, and supporting the production and dissemination of regular climate bulletins.

Other countries where WFP supports the government in strengthening early warning systems are Bangladesh, Burundi, Cambodia, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Haiti, Indonesia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Senegal, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe among others.

WFP is the only humanitarian agency member of the Alliance for Hydromet Development. As such, it has been selected to be an implementing entity of the Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF), which supports the optimization of weather observation networks. In fact, WFP is supporting Chad’s Meteorological Agency (ANAM) and Mozambique’s Meteorological Institute (INAM) with other national meteorological services as peer advisors. Specifically, in these 2 countries, WFP works with Geosphere Austria, and the South African Weather Services. WFP is supporting both countries to request funding from SOFF, which will upgrade their surface and upper altitudes network and enable improved and reliable environment data for decision-making. WFP is coordinating with stakeholders to ensure efficient resource utilization, monitor progress, and contribute to sustainable development and climate resilience efforts in both countries and beyond.

Early Warning Systems

WFP also works on last-mile Early Warning systems, which means connecting an early warning system with the people directly affected by an impending climate shock. For example, in Somalia, in 2022, before a fourth consecutive drought, WFP disseminated last-mile early warning messages through radio, reaching nearly 1.2 million people in the Bay and Bakool regions. The messages explained the risk of drought to their crops and livelihoods and suggested actions that communities could take to mitigate and prepare for the predicted drought conditions. The dissemination was part of the Anticipatory Action programme which also provided people with cash to support them to stabilize their purchasing power ahead of impending drought.

WFP is supporting the UN Secretary-General’s call to “protect everyone on Earth with early warning systems against extreme weather and climate change” within five years. WFP is well-positioned to support the implementation of this Early Warning For All (EW4A) initiative leveraging existing climate programmes, deep field presence, knowledge of local contexts, and the expertise working in food-insecure settings to work towards protecting people before climate shocks with last mile early warning messages and anticipatory action and to help governments and the international humanitarian system to shift from crisis response to more forward-looking risk management.

(c) of the Text: World Food Programme



World Food Programme

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March 2023 | The Science behind Saving and Changing lives