Early Warning System for Drought Implemented in PNG by CREWS

Developing countries, least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing states (SIDS) are particularly vulnerable to impact of climate extremes, including drought which could lead to water crisis or severe food shortage.

Recognizing urgency of enhancing Early Warning System (EWS) to assist vulnerable countries with climate change adaptation, Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) international initiative has been established in 2015. CREWS presently operates in countries in Africa, Asia, the Pacific and the Caribbean improving EWS to protect the most vulnerable population against hydro-meteorological hazards like droughts, floods, and tropical cyclones.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), working in partnership with the national governments and hydro-meteorological agencies of LDCs and SIDS through the projects of CREWS initiative is striving towards the goal that everyone should have access to EWS in the next five years to protect them against hazards related to our weather, climate and water. In Papua New Guinea (PNG), the PNG National Weather Service, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and the WMO implemented CREWS project developing a user-centred integrated EWS for drought. This week the 2022 Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (APMCDRR) is held in Brisbane, Australia and today the implementing partner organizations presented CREWS achievements at a Partner Event.

Opening the presentation, Mr John Harding, Head of the CREWS Secretariat, emphasised importance of international assistance to developing and least developed countries like PNG through CREWS international initiative. Highlighting CREWS achievement, Mr Harding said “CREWS has already supported 73 countries helping to vulnerable countries with climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction “.

“PNG is a country in the Southwest Pacific with a population of over 9 million people; agriculture provides a subsistence livelihood for 85% of the people. PNG, the largest of the Pacific Island Countries, faces multiple climate change-related challenges. Climate-related natural disasters as well as gradual shifts in climatic conditions already pose significant risks to PNG disrupting daily life, causing damage to assets and infrastructure, destroying livelihoods, and killing or injuring people. Severe drought caused by strong El Niño event in 2015-2016 affected about 40% of PNG population with almost half a million people impacted by food shortages” said Mr Kasis Inape, Assistant Director of the PNG NWS.

It is expected that climate change will exacerbate drought’s hazards impacting on agricultural yields and productivity of economy sectors further reducing wellbeing of PNG population. Addressing these pressing issues, CREWS addressed government priority in climate change adaptation through enhancing EWS and strengthening resilience of at-risk communities in 22 provinces of PNG, providing accurate and timely information about current state of drought and its likely development.

To strengthen capacity of climate services in PNG, novel drought risk assessment methodology based on integrating drought hazard, exposure and vulnerability components has been developed by the CREWS team. Prof. Yuriy Kuleshov from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Science Leader of CREWS introduced to the APMCDRR participants the developed user-centred integrated EWS for drought. The system integrates drought monitoring component utilising WMO Space-based Weather and Climate Extremes Monitoring (SWCEM) products and predictive component using outputs from Bureau’s dynamical climate model available from the WMO Global Producing Centre for Long-range Forecasts. Improvement of an already developed set of WMO SWCEM products has led to greater accuracy on drought risk assessment and prediction.

“PNG National Weather Service and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology have long-lasting history of very productive cooperation on strengthening climate service, through the International Climate Change Adaptation Initiative and other collaborative programs. CREWS is another important initiative aimed to strengthen climate information services in PNG. Thanks to CREWS, PNG NWS now issues operational Drought Update monthly bulletin which is distributed to stakeholders from agriculture, energy, health and water sectors, as well as to the PNG Disaster Management Team allowing for proactive approach in drought adaptation” said Prof. Kuleshov.

Highlighting CREWS achievement in implementing drought risk assessment and EWS for drought in PNG, Prof. Kuleshov emphasised key role of CREWS international initiative in implementing the call of United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that every person on earth should be protected by early warning systems in the next five years. He encouraged countries in Asia-Pacific to learn from CREWS lessons in PNG and cooperate with CREWS on establishing similar projects in vulnerable to drought countries.

Source: World Meteorological Organization

Author: Web Desk