Leveraging next-generation technologies, the Government of Liberia taps the private sector to build effective climate information and early warning systems
For centuries, Liberians have relied on traditional knowledge for farming. They knew it would be wet in the last half of the year, dry in the first.
But a changing climate means extreme weather is making it harder to guess what lies ahead, how seasonal rainfall patterns might change, and how these winds of change might threaten to disrupt the delicate peace in this country where eight out of 10 people live on less than $1.25 a day, farmers largely rely on rainfed agriculture to feed their families, and coastal fisheries are threatened by rising sea levels and coastal flooding.
With all these changes, reliable weather forecasts, early warnings and consistent climate information can mean the difference between life and death, profitable harvests or destroyed crops, sustainable economic and social development, or continued cycles of poverty and conflict.
A new vision for climate services
With the numerous challenges and resource constraints that Liberia faces, traditional hydrometeorological systems like those deployed in developed countries are too expensive, too hard to service, and too difficult to maintain.
Rather than invest in this type of system, the Government of Liberia decided to take a bold step to leapfrog technologies by leveraging easy-to-deploy automatic weather stations, partnerships with telecommunications companies, and innovative public-private partnerships with climate service providers.
Working with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on a project to “Strengthen climate information services to enhance resilient development,” the Government of Liberia has deployed 11 automatic weather stations (AWS), 6 agrometeorology stations, a lightning detection system, hydrological software that will provide for integrated water resource management, and a hydrological early warning system that has been installed and will begin issuing alerts in 2018. The project was supported through a UNDP programme on Climate Information for Resilient Development in Africa (CIRDA) and funded through the Global Environment Facility Least Developed Countries Fund (GEF-LDCF).