Outcomes of the HIGHWAY project: saving lives on Lake Victoria

The four-year HIGHWAY project in East Africa has come to an end, having demonstrated how improved weather, water and climate services save lives and livelihoods and support socio-economic development of vulnerable communities.

More than 200 000 people have benefited directly and 1.4 million indirectly from the project, which was funded by the UK Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) through the Weather and Climate Information Services for Africa (WISER) programme. It has reduced annual weather-related deaths on the lake by 30% – saving more than 300 lives per year. The associated economic benefits are estimated at US$ 44 million per year, a benefit to cost ratio of 16:1.

The main achievements of the project include:

  • the development of forecasts, co-designed by National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) and fishing communities, to meet the needs of fisherfolk and ensure their safety on Lake Victoria
  • the dissemination of high impact weather warnings from NMHSs to fishing communities through radios, flags, notice boards and social messaging applications
  • the establishment of a regional WMO Integrated Global Observing System (WIGOS) centre to monitor meteorological data quality in East Africa, jointly run by the Kenya Meteorological Department and the Tanzania Meteorological Authority
  • the improvement of meteorological data through enhanced observations tools in the Lake Victoria Basin, notably through the revival of Upper Air Stations in the region; and
  • the development and enhancement of meteorological tools (Met Office 4km Unified East Africa model; the RDT (Rapid Development Thunderstorm); Near-Cast product, and Convective Rain Rates (CRR) products) to improve the accuracy of severe weather forecasting in the region
  • the establishment of a pilot regional Early Warning System to inform fisherfolk and other local stakeholders about high impact weather events on Lake Victoria.

Highway ProjectTogether with the East African Community (EAC), the project partners developed a strategy, the Regional Early Warning System Vision 2025 for East Africa, for coordinating and issuing severe weather warnings throughout the EAC’s six Member States – Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda and United Republic of Tanzania. HIGHWAY project partners are calling for further investment by international development partners to build on the FCDO investment and to support the implementation of its regional strategy.

EAC Members have committed to increasing regional cooperation for the delivery of more accurate, timely and reliable impact-based early warning services, notably through the WMO Information System (WIS) and the application of the EAC policy for sharing of meteorological data. They also work to ensure sustained resourcing for such efforts within their respective governments.

For more information on the project, click here.

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