A report by the World Bank has revealed that improving the prediction of hydrological and meteorological (Hydromet) hazards by getting accurate, timely predictions into the hands of decision-makers and the public can save lives and money.
It noted that hydrological and meteorological hazards were responsible for 90% of total disaster losses worldwide, adding that between 1970 and 2012, it meant economic losses of $2.4 trillion and the deaths of 2 million people.
The report pointed out that with accurate temperature and weather forecasts, communities can prepare for floods, and, in turn, reduce damage and injury to people and animals.
Also, health officials, working with weather services, can predict when extreme temperatures and precipitation might trigger outbreaks of vector-borne diseases and use the knowledge to drive mitigation efforts.
In addition, countries can have better information to adapt to a changing climate; and the energy sector can anticipate peak demand and adjust production accordingly, the report said.
It, however, noted that investment in hydromet is not only about making upgrades to forecasting technology, but to strengthen capacity and ultimately, improve service delivery.
Secretary-General of the WMO, Petteri Taalas, is quoted in the report as saying that, “There’s been a recognition of the need to improve hydromet service delivery in vulnerable countries; a recognition that modernized hydromet systems can provide benefits and avert the loss of human life.”
He added that although much more remained to be done, there’s been a significant increase of investment in the sector.
Far from revolving solely around upgrading technology, the increased investment aims to address the needs of a modern hydromet system by building institutional capacity.
The World Bank alone has invested over $400 million in hydromet projects over the last 10 years, and has worked to introduce an integrated approach to hydromet modernization projects.
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