Afghanistan Early Warning System Project

Donors:
  • U.S. Agency for International Development/The Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA)
Project Partners:
  • WMO

Reconnecting with the World

Afghanistan’s development has been hampered through years of insecurity.  It is extremely exposed to hydrometeorological hazards, which claimed the lives of nearly 15,000 from 1980 to 2015. Of these, 4,615 were due to flash floods and floods, according to the International Disaster Database Centre for research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), which have cost the country an estimated USD 396 million in economic losses. Associated landslides and avalanches are also a major problem.

To reduce the adverse effects of hydrometeorological hazards on vulnerable communities, WMO and the U.S. Agency for International Development/Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) have established a partnership to enhance the capacity of the Afghanistan Meteorological Department (AMD) to provide timely and accurate severe weather forecast and warnings, including flash floods.

Donors

Objectives

  • Enhance AMD's surface meteorological observation network for data collection, storage, and processing;
  • Build a Local Area Network/Wide Area Network to enable AMD  to exchange data and information;
  • Enable AMD to submit and retrieve data from the WMO Global Telecommunication System (GTS);
  • Enable AMD to provide public weather services;
  • Provide training to forecasters based on the WMO competency requirements to issue timely and accurate severe weather forecasts and warnings;
  • Enable AMD to understand and use the Pakistan-Afghanistan  Flash Flood Guidance System and its products for issuing timely and accurate flash flood warnings;
  • Install a meteorological satellite data reception and visualization station to build nowcasting capability  for severe weather and flash flood warnings;
  • Assist AMD to restructure its administration to provide efficient and effective services; and
  • Enable AMD to provide basic maintenance services for its observation network and IT systems.

Components

Main Components of the Afghanistan End-to-End Early Warning System Chain

Establish the Local Area Network/Wide Area Network

AMD LAN NetworkSince the basic infrastructure for a Local Area Network/Wide Area Network (LAN/WAN) was installed at AMD, forecasters have been able to access the internet with 10 mbps bandwidth; exchange data through the WMO Global Telecommunication System (GTS) and File Transfer Protocol; and connect with the Pakistan-Afghanistan Flash Flood Guidance System servers, global Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) centres, and Regional Specialized Meteorological Centres. In addition to the installation of network hardware and software, desktop and laptop computers, printers and fax machines, AMD is now equipped with a generator and uninterrupted power supply to overcome power outages.

Access the WMO Global Telecommunication System

AMD accesses the WMO Global Telecommunication SystemPreviously, AMD was unable to access the WMO GTS to exchange observation reports, such as surface synoptic observations reports, with other Members. Though this project, AMD now has the required basic LAN/WAN connectivity and meteorological data processing and visualization software (METCAP+) to submit and receive GTS data through the Turkish State Meteorological Service Message Switching System. Using METCAP+ software, AMD can process and visualize meteorological observations, NWP model products and satellite images.

Provide Public Weather Services

AMD Web PortalFor the first time in 30 years, AMD can provide reliable and timely public weather services, including severe weather and flash flood forecasts and warnings. After extensive on-the-job training at the Turkish State Meteorological Service, forecasters have developed sufficient competencies to issue forecasts and warnings addressing the needs of Afghanistan’s citizens and different sectors. METCAP+ software is used in daily operations to prepare forecasts and warnings and disseminate messages to the concerned authorities, including the Afghanistan Disaster Management Agency through email, fax and phone, and using the Common Alerting Protocol. A dedicated web portal has also been established to provide the public with forecasts, warnings and up-to-date weather information.

Enhance the Meteorological Observation Network

Afghanistan EWS Meteorological Observation NetworkThe AMD surface meteorological network, the main pillar of the end-to-end early warning chain, is being modernized to enable efficient data management and sharing for the country. This includes the installation of five new Automated Weather Observing Systems (AWOS); upgrade of three manual surface meteorological stations; acquisition of a database server; improvement of the communication infrastructure; connection to the WMO GTS; and provision of meteorological data processing and visualization software. Each AWOS station will measure fifteen parameters, such as pressure, air temperature, precipitation, soil moisture and temperature, wind speed and direction. Each AWOS station will measure fifteen parameters, such as pressure, air temperature, precipitation, soil moisture and temperature, wind speed and direction. Designed to be expandable and scalable, the network will serve as the backbone for merging the existing hydrometeorological observation stations that have been implemented by different national authorities, such as the Water Management Department and Ministry of Agriculture, resulting in more efficient data management and sharing for the country.

Meteorological Satellite Data Reception and Visualization

AMD Eumetcast User Station ConfigurationA satellite EUMETCast user station has been installed for data reception, processing and visualization, building basic nowcasting capability at AMD. With this access point to the EUMETCast system, AMD can receive satellite images and products from the EUMETSAT operational geostationary satellite, Meteosat-8, which is located over the Indian Ocean at 41.5 degree East. Meteosat-8 delivers images every fifteen minutes in 12 spectral channels. Eleven channels provide measurements with three-kilometer resolution at the sub-satellite point, and one high resolution visible channel provides one-kilometer resolution. The Turkish State Meteorological Service (TSMS) provided data reception and visualization software, free of charge. Satellite meteorology training to build AMD staff’s nowcasting competencies was provided by the WMO Regional Training Centre hosted by TSMS.

Pakistan-Afghanistan Flash Flood Guidance System

South Asia Flash Flood GuidanceEstablished as a part of the global Flash Flood Guidance System, the Pakistan-Afghanistan Flash Flood Guidance (FFG) System provides flash flood products for issuing timely and accurate flash flood forecasts and warnings. Thanks to the reliable Internet access established through this project, AMD forecasters can now access the Pakistan-Afghanistan FFG servers located in the Regional Centre in Pakistan. AMD can make use of FFG products are such as satellite precipitation, Mean Areal Precipitation (MAP), soil moisture, Flash Flood Guidance, NWP Quantitative Precipitation Forecasts, flash flood threats, snow water equivalent, snow coverage and snow melt. The application of FFG products is not confined to flash flood forecasts and warnings; these can also be used by different sectors, such as agriculture and water management. Extensive hydrometeorological and FFG operational training was provided to AMD meteorologists and hydrologists through on-the-job training at the WMO Regional Training Centre hosted by TSMS.

Restructure Afghanistan Meteorological Department

AMD was restructured to enable more efficient and effective public weather service delivery and to fulfil national and international obligations. New divisions such as weather analysis and  forecasting, international relations, observations, and IT were established. The modernization of the observation network, communications, and data processing and visualization system necessitated recruiting personnel with the familiarity and adaptability to rapid technological change, and with the appropriate language skills for an international environment. WMO also assisted AMD in developing its strategic plan for 2017 to 2021. The plan identifies AMD’s goals and priorities for improving its products and service delivery in public weather service and aviation, and bolsters AMD’s opportunities for obtaining additional funding from international organizations to continue this progress.

Training

AMD staff receive training at WMO RTC TurkeyCompetency-based training was an integral component of the project. Based on WMO competency requirements, the training was aimed at developing local capacities for providing timely and accurate hydrometeorological services as well as ensuring their long-term sustainability. AMD managers, forecasters, observers, engineers, technicians, and IT specialists have participated in training activities. The WMO Regional Training Centre hosted by the Turkish State Meteorological Service (TSMS) provided training on topics including Quality Management Training (QMT), Observer Training, Weather Analysis and Forecasting, Satellite Meteorology, Hydrometeorology, Flash Flood Guidance System,  Meteorological Instruments Maintenance and Calibration, and IT.

Three female forecasters received Weather Analysis and Forecasting Training, representing a significant step forward for the participation of Afghan women in the professional scientific workforce.

AMD forecasters with their trainer from WMO RTC Turkey

Sustainability

To ensure that AMD continues to deliver products  and services to its beneficiaries after the project’s completion, a six-step approach was adopted focusing on the long-term maintenance of the high-tech technology hardware and software, and sustainable provision of hydrometeorological service. These steps include:

  1. first stage maintenance to be performed by the trained AMD personnel;
  2. second stage maintenance to be provided by the contractors for five years after project completion;
  3. funds for maintenance beyond second stage through the contractors or third parties to be provided by the Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority, under which AMD is situated;
  4. continued participation of AMD staff in WMO training activities, including maintenance of the hydrometeorological instruments and forecasting;
  5. continued training of local trainers from Kabul University through WMO e-learning platform; and
  6. twinning with the Turkish State Meteorological Service.