UNDP Cambodia announces partnership with global climate experts of RIMES, advancing forecasting for the future

United Nations Development Programme - Cambodia

In a leap forward for grassroots and government preparedness for climate change in Cambodia, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has forged a new partnership with the intergovernmental institution Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for Africa and Asia (RIMES) aimed at enhancing the country’s capacity to produce and act on climate forecasts.

The new partnership will see RIMES work with government meteorologists, hydrologists, and other staff under the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, as well as local farmers who are facing more intense – and unpredictable – wet and dry seasons and higher average temperatures.

“UNDP is really thrilled to announce and roll out this partnership with RIMES under the project Strengthening Climate Information and Early Warning Systems in Cambodia,” said Project Manager Muhibuddin Usamah.“What we are aiming to do is increase Cambodia’s use of climate and environmental information to respond and adapt to a changing climate. RIMES’ on-the-ground global experience on forecasting, global networks, and open-source, scalable technologies make them the perfect partners and we are very pleased to be working with them over the coming year.”

The Director of RIMES, Mr AR Subbiah, explained that one of RIMES’ core functions is to provide daily weather forecasts and earthquake and tsunami early warning information to national hydro-meteorological services. With development partners’ support, RIMES builds the capacity of member states around the world to transform science-based forecast data into localised risk information. In the case of Cambodia, RIMES bears the cost of generating weather data through its weather forecast models, while UNDP provides support to transform forecasts into impact outlooks on a cost-sharing basis.

The new co-operation with Cambodia resulted from the RIMES Council’s Annual Program Meeting in November 2018, where a five-year capacity development plan for Cambodia was prepared, stemming from discussion among the Department of Meteorology, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, RIMES, and UNDP. The plan included building the capacity of the Department of Meteorology in forecasting, and customisation of RIMES’ seasonal climate forecast system as an additional tool for seasonal forecasting.

Under the partnership, RIMES will engage with national and provincial staff from Cambodia’s Department of Meteorology, Department of Hydrology and River Works and Department of Agriculture. Activities over the coming months will include:

  • Local customisation of RIMES’ Seasonal Climate Forecast System (known as ‘FOCUS’) and transfer to Cambodia’s Department of Meteorology, with meteorologists to be trained in its use as well as operation and maintenance.
  • Training for Cambodian meteorologists in weather and seasonal climate prediction using short-range numerical weather prediction (NWP) and long-range statistical modelling.
  • Local customisation of RIMES’ Specialized Expert System for Agro-Meteorological Early Warning (known as ‘SESAME’), and transfer to the Department of Agriculture, including the addition of a drought monitoring module and Khmer-language mobile app, with staff to be trained in its administration, maintenance, and further development.
  • Capacity-building with the Department of Agriculture on producing and disseminating agrometeorological advisories, including to better manage drought situations.
  • Local adaptation of RIMES’ FARM School Programme/Farmers Field School with the Department of Agriculture, including curriculum customisation.
  • Training with farmers on how to act on advisories in crop planning and decision-making (through the FARM School).
  • Hosting a ‘Monsoon Forum’, a national platform bringing together agencies and users to discuss improving forecasting and co-ordination.

“Over the past year, UNDP Cambodia has established a number of partnerships under the Strengthening Climate Information and Early Warning Systems project, including with DanChurchAid, People In Need, and the regional SERVIR-Mekong service,” said Project Manager Muhibuddin Usamah. “Together, we are working closely with the Royal Government to realise a weather-ready, climate-smart Cambodia– this is truly ‘Partnership for the [Sustainable Development] Goals'."

About the ‘Strengthening Climate Information and Early Warning Systems in Cambodia’ project

With financing from the GEF-Least Developed Countries Fund, the UNDP-supported project ‘Strengthening Climate Information and Early Warning Systems in Cambodia’ aims to increase Cambodia’s institutional capacity to assimilate and forecast weather, hydrological, and climate information for adaptation, disaster preparedness, and early warning. The project has recently completed the installation of 24 automatic weather stations and 24 automatic hydrological stations nation-wide.

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