WMO is supporting the first ever national strategic plan to strengthen Haiti’s Hydro-Meteorological Service (UHM), as well as a new international initiative to build resilience to extreme weather and climate change impacts in the western hemisphere’s most impoverished nation.
The Climate Risk and Early Warning Services Initiative Haiti project was launched on 27 January to improve forecasts and early warnings of hazards such as hurricanes, floods and droughts which regularly impact the vulnerable Caribbean nation.
WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas said early warning systems were now more important than ever, given that warmer temperatures and waters are providing more heat and humidity to fuel tropical cyclones and associated flooding.
“We have to strengthen observing systems and invest in early warning systems and National Meteorological and Hydrological Services. We have been able to demonstrate that when you make such investments, you get your money back ten-fold in terms of avoiding economics and human losses,” said Prof Taalas.
On behalf of the Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Development, his chief of staff Karly Jean Jeune said: « This ceremony has a special importance, not just for UHM and the Ministry of Agriculture, but also for the entire government and people of Haiti, given the socio-economic impact of weather, climate and water-related events and also the importance of the services provided each day by UHM for farmers, fishers, maritime and air transport and civil protection etc,”
“These services are an indispensable pillar of the economic life of our country and for the protection of lives, livelihoods and infrastructure,” he said.
WMO has been committed to Haiti ever since the devastating 2010 earthquake. Inclusive in this re-building process was the partnership between WMO and the Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) to initiate a project which sought to restore hydrological and meteorological services.
This project, titled Climate Services to Reduce Vulnerability in Haiti was allocated CAD 6.5 million by ECCC and implemented by WMO to help re-establish these services to be accessible to all critical sectors and vulnerable communities.
Since its inception in 2012, the project has provided essential support to establish and modernize the National Meteorological Service's main functions of observations, forecasting and service delivery. The five main achievements have been:
- Construction of a Net-Zero Energy, earthquake and hurricane-proof building to house the National Hydro-Meteorological Services of Haiti.
- Capacity building of both scientific and technical personnel and development of a business plan for the NMHS considering all aspects of developing a functioning and modern weather, climate and hydrology service.
- Re-establishment of climatological and hydrological observing networks and implementation of a data management system.
- Development a wide-reaching dissemination system, to inform stakeholders and the general population of climate related risks.
- Development of a five-year National Strategic Plan to chart the way forward for UHM
“We are very grateful to Canada and to many other countries for supporting the reconstruction of Haiti’s meteorological and hydrological service,” said Prof Taalas.
“Canada is extremely happy to have been invited to take part in this event, because it shows the extent to which UHM will serve its citizens, said Jennifer Collette, Director General of Policy, Planning and Partnerships of the Meteorological Service of Canada. Collette offered remarks on behalf of Marc Josue representative of the Canadian Embassy in Haiti.
Collette described the National Strategic Plan as the bedrock for the future, adding that Canada will be happy to participate in analyzing the future progress to be made by UHM.
The four-year US$1.5 million CREWS project seeks to improve the capacity of UHM to develop and deliver co-produced multi-hazard alerts, as well as to strengthen its cooperation with key ministries, priority sectors and communities that will increase the effectiveness of Haiti’s early warning system.
This will be done through improving the technical capacities of UHM to better calibrate and integrate systems for flood warning; improve the numerical weather prediction use and forecasts and to have an overall quality management system.
These areas will be supported by the existence of a more robust governance framework that will be reflected in the National Strategic Plan.
- Enhanced UHM to deliver high quality services to Civil Protection and other stakeholders
- Established/Improved hydrometeorological warning system
- Enhanced preparedness and response capacities at national and community levels
John Harding, Head of the CREWS Secretariat thanked national authorities for their leadership on the project, stating, "country-led projects are a key principle for CREWS, along with ensuring that early warning systems are gender sensitive and focus on the needs of the people most at risk."
UHM director-general Marcelin Esterlin added, “This is a major initiative to improve the capacity of UHM to provide climate, hydrological and meteorological services of a high quality, enhancing the security of the Haitian people and decision-making in climate-sensitive economic sectors.”