Vanuatu has decided to be better prepared to face disasters unlike two years ago when it was not well equipped to face cyclone Pam.
The government, through the Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) is working with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to fight against climate threats and reduce the impacts of future disasters.
Through its Vanuatu Coastal Adaptation Project (VCAP), the MoCC is installing automated weather stations (AWS) in remote islands to provide advance warning of disasters like tsunamis.
Automated weather systems replace traditional weather stations and are more effective.
Before, weather observers usually take daily observations and relay information via tele-radio to the Meteo head office.
With the AWS, information will be be available 24 hours. The systems are powered by solar with machines measuring temperature, humidity, wind direction and speed, rainfall, soil moisture and leaf wetness.
These information are relevant not only to Forecast and Climate Division of the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD) but they can be utilized as well by other weather dependent sectors like aviation, tourism, infrastructure and agriculture.
The Director General (DG) of MoCC, Jesse Benjamin, said using these technologies has raised Vanuatu’s profile in the region for strengthening community resilience to climate related hazards.
Vanuatu has been ranked the most disaster prone country in the world.
The UNDP Representative, David Wouloseje, said UNDP is committed through this project to protect lives.
The project engages grassroots to be more aware of what needs to be done, for example run to higher grounds, during tsunamis to save lives.
The Minister of Climate Change, Ham Lini, said the ministry is working to ensure that AWS and climate related services reaches all six provinces.
The first AWS and offices were installed on Aneityum and Tanna. Two more were opened yesterday on Malekula, at Norsup and Lamap.
Another two automated weather stations on Ambae and in Torba province are expected to be launched soon, making a total of eight AWS in Vanuatu.
VCAP is facilitating the project at a cost of Vt57 million coordinated by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) .
Funds are provided by the Global Environment Fund through UNDP.