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Illiteracy levels affecting Meteorological Services

Over population deepening poverty in Malawi

Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services has attributed its information communication dissemination challenge to high illiteracy levels in the country, saying people fail to instantly understand the information they present at once.

Amos Ntonya, a Meteorologist in the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services said this on Tuesday during a meeting organised to sensitise Nkhotakota District Executive Committee on ‘Saving Lives and Protecting Agriculture-based Livelihoods in Malawi: Scaling up the Use of Modernised Climate Information and Early Warning Systems (M-CLIMES)’ Project.

Ntonya said the level of understanding due to high illiteracy levels in Malawi has made it a challenge to package the information so that people around the country understand it at same time and interpret easily the climatic weather conditions at hand.

He said it has also been difficult for people to interpret the message with reference to their areas.

Ntonya explained that the topography and communication networks of the country make it difficult for the department to spread the messages widely and timely.

“Malawi is largely rural, that makes it difficult to reach some communities with weather and climate information. We have been relying heavily on the use of radio and phones. In some cases, we have been visiting districts so that people interpret it into their area for the expected impact.

Our role in this project is therefore to improve or expand the observation network by installing more weather stations so that we have more sources of weather and climate information,” he said.

He added that there is need for all sectors to spell out what they want in terms of climate and weather forecasts to address the existing gap in information dissemination so that the information is user-friendly.

“Stakeholders should tell us what they want. It will be important for us to understand our user so that we provide what they want.

“The department understands that different sectors need different information on weather and climate change, therefore, being specific on the needs will simplify the information dissemination process,” he said.

The Meteorologist emphasized that the department will generate weather and climate change information to make sure that adaptation and development plans are well informed in terms of climate change and related weather hazards.

He echoed that the department wants to address people’s concerns that weather forecast information is too general.

“We have to make the information simple by highlighting specific time and area of focus. Through that is the case, we can design and package information for them,” said Ntonya.

In his presentation, Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) representative, Samuel Gama, said the six years project which is budgeted at $16, 264,585 (about MK12.4bn) will reach two million beneficiaries in 21 districts in the country.

He explained that the project aims at expanding networks that generate climate related data to serve lives as well as strengthen communities’ capacities for the use of early warning signs in preparation for response to climate related disasters.

“M-CLIMES will help to reduce vulnerability to climate change impacts on lives and livelihoods, particularly of women, from extreme weather events and climate change. Besides, it will focus on development and dissemination of products and platforms for climate related information,” he said.

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