Early warnings can save lives and provide vast economic benefits

Strengthening collaboration
A Regional Association 1 Hydrology and Water Coordination Panel meeting is taking place at the Seaside Hotel in Swakopmund.
Desiree Gases
The most critical constraints of Namibia’s water resource are the high rainfall variability and the accompanying threat of drought.

According to the Executive Director for the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform (MAWLR) Ndiyakupi Nghituwamata, the water scarcity of Namibia will be worsened by climate change and variability. "With water demand continuing to rise in the country, water scarcity has become a problem for all areas that are placed geographically far from the perennial water resources in achieving economic, environmental and social development objectives. Given the trend of migration, urban domestic water demand (including manufacturing and industry) is estimated to increase," Nghituwamata told attendees via her speech at the opening of the Regional Association 1 Hydrology and Water Coordination Panel meeting being hosted at the Seaside Hotel in Swakopmund.


She named risk assessment, proper planning and mitigation as the cornerstones of any National Meteorological and Hydrological Service (NMHS) measure to reduce flood risks. "Timely forecasts and warnings must be produced at the regional, national and local levels and be communicated through the appropriate authorities in language that they understand."

She further pointed out that The National Development Plan 5 indicates that the annual water demand in 2015 was about 334.1 million cubic meters and is projected to reach 583.4 and 771.7 million cubic meters per year by 2025 and 2030, respectively. Irrigation accounts for about 60% of water consumption and will remain the main consumer over the next ten years.

Nghituwamata emphasised that Africa’s National and Hydrological and Meteorological services are faced with challenges of low capacity to disseminate early warning services and information to mitigate against the impacts of climate change. "In order for us to effectively address these serious challenges, we need collaborative efforts at, political, scientific, academia, private and community levels coupled with global and regional collaboration."


She listed the review of the work plan for 2022-2023 and progress of implementation of different activities to be presented during the WMO Regional Association Africa 1 Management meeting planned in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia next week as one of the desired outcomes of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) RA 1 HWCP meeting. "In addition to that we must improving advocacy for the work of the panel in Africa and strengthening collaboration with AMCOW, transboundary basin authorities, citizens, the private sector and institutions responsible for National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHS) and disaster management.These outcomes are very serious and considerate, which if achieved will contribute to efficient and sustainable management of water resources and in return address impacts of climate change and its effect on our people’s live hoods in our countries and world at large."


Nghituwamata also underlined the importance of Hydrological and Meteorological services in addressing impacts of climate change. "According to the World Economic Forum, 2022 report the annual global risk landscape analysed consistently identifies extreme weather events, failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation, natural disasters and water crises as being among the most critical societal risks over the next 10 years, in terms of impacts and likelihood."

She said that building resilience to High-Impact Hydro-Meteorological events should be done through strengthening Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems (MHEWS) and by working with National Hydrological and Meteorological Services to augment their engagement in national and regional multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk reduction mechanisms. "This can be done by increasing their access to and use of regional and global hydrometeorological data and products in order to support national development of impact-based forecasts and warnings and by strengthening their capacity to develop impact-based hydrometeorological products and services to support policy makers and stakeholders in their decision-making on disaster risk mitigation and action plans."

The future

Nghituwamata pointed out that in the future, NMHSs will continue to play a major role as national institutions designated to serve societies and economies with essential Earth-system information and services dedicated to the safety and well-being of people. "They will also provide key decision support to governments in the crucial endeavours of climate change adaptation and mitigation. NMHSs will also continue to be the backbone of the global system of systems for monitoring and predicting Earth-system conditions."

The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, announced on 23 March 2023 that United Nations would spearhead new action to ensure every person on planet earth is protected by early warning systems within five years. The WMO, which is a specialised agency of the UN, whose mandate covers water climate and resources and is dedicated to international cooperation, was given the mandate to spearhead the meeting on early warning systems.