Central Africa ‘will struggle to gauge climate risks’ without more investment in meteorological data

Central Africa ‘will struggle to gauge climate risks’ without more investment in meteorological data
29 June 2023

By the Climate Centre

Without help for investment in weather stations, climate science and human vulnerability in central Africa, the region will struggle to understand future climate risks – this is the main conclusion of the latest study, published today, by World Weather Attribution scientists.

They report that due to a lack of data, they were unable to confidently assess the role of climate change in the exceptionally rainfall last month that led to deadly floods and landslides in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo around Lake Kivu – one of Africa’s the most densely populated regions.

The study says that such a lack of investment in weather and climate science “may hinder efforts to improve climate models, understand and adapt to climate risks in the region, and identify loss and damage caused by climate change,” a WWA press release said.

Announcing a humanitarian cash grant of just under half a million Swiss francs for the Rwandan Red Cross, the IFRC’s Disasters Response Emergency Fund said in May: “The damages, losses and deaths recorded across the 14 districts [of Rwanda are] huge.”

The IFRC made a DREF grant of 334,000 Swiss francs to the Red Cross in the DRC, where UN reports said more than 400 people died; at least 130 people were said to have died in Rwanda.

‘Meteorological agencies need proper funding
to enable them to share data’

Deforestation for agriculture and mining has greatly increased the risk of landslides, and many human settlements are located in highly vulnerable areas, the WWA study says.

Dieudonne Nsadisa Faka, team leader for climate services with a group of African, Caribbean and Pacific states said today: “In Rwanda and the DRC, paper-based observational records need digitizing, weather stations destroyed during conflict need rebuilding, and meteorological agencies need proper funding to enable them to more freely share their data.

“These efforts combined will improve climate science and our understanding of climate change impacts in central Africa.”

The IPCC has projected increased heavy rainfall in the region of the Great Lakes, and investment in data gathering would help improve early warning there and global climate models generally, the WWA study adds.

It was conducted by 17 researchers, including universities and meteorological agencies in Rwanda and the DRC as well as Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and the US.

Of more than 50 World Weather Attribution studies to date, only three have not been able to produce fully conclusive results, including the droughts in Ethiopia in 2015 and the Sahel last year.

Rwandan Red Cross personnel distribute relief to some of the thousands of people affected by the exceptionally heavy rainfall in May around Lake Kivu. A WWA study out today says increased investment in meteorological services would help improve early warning of events like last month’s in which hundreds of people died. (Photo: Rwanda Red Cross)