Honiara, Solomon Islands: The installation of five hydro-meteorological stations in Solomon Islands - first of its kind that combines hydrology and meteorological data, is currently in process under the GEF funded Solomon Islands Water Sector Adaptation Project (SIWSAP), implemented by UNDP and Solomon Islands Government.
The new hydro-meteorological stations are built upon existing Climate Early Warning Systems (CLEWS) that are monitored and operated by the Solomon Islands Meteorological Services (SIMS). The upgrade ensures that SIMS have access to an extensive range of information to better understand current climate conditions and to strengthen hydrological services for improved responsive water monitoring and forecasting systems.
“Solomon Islands lacks access to real time data that can help the early warning process to reduce disaster risks in communities. When these new stations are operational, it will give data essential to hydrological and meteorological early warning systems in the country that will help save many lives”, said Mr. Lloyd Tahani, SIMS Acting Director.
One hydro-meteorological station has already been installed in Gizo (Western Province) and another in Taro (Choiseul Province). Three more will be installed in Tigoa (Rennell Bellona Province), Ferafalu community (Malaita Province), and Tuwo community (Temotu Province). These are SIWSAP pilot sites and all five stations are expected to be fully operational by the end of August 2017.
The Water Resources Division under the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification has a role to investigate, develop and monitor new or existing hydrological resources, trends and investments in the country.
Mr. Isaac Lekelalu, Deputy Director for the Division said, “Before communities relied on expert judgement to tell when they have high temperatures, strong winds, storm surges and all sorts of climate and weather conditions in the communities”, he continued to say, “Information from the hydro-meteorology stations will assist national planning and development. In the context of climate change and climate adaptation it can, on a longer term, show climate trends and patterns for the whole country”.
The Deputy Director also highlighted that the upgraded hydro-meteorological stations will provide data useful to other sectors such as water and sanitation and other sectors. It can mean data and information for food security, aviation, marine and forecasting, environment and health.
SIWSAP aims to contribute to Sustainable Development Goal 13 on climate change adaptation by building resilience of communities in the water sector. Ms. Azusa Kubota, UNDP Country Manager said, “SIWSAP is not a traditional water and sanitation project – its integrated approach strengthens resilience - and I hope it’s adaptation benefits can be felt and seen in communities “.
In January this year, three officers from the Water Resources Division and Meteorological Division, and one SIWSAP staff were trained at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) Facility in Christchurch, New Zealand to build the hydro meteorology stations for SIWSAP Project. Following the training, NIWA trained national, provincial and community stakeholders in a pre-installation workshop in March, held in Honiara.
Staff from the SIMS and SIWSAP Project are currently working with NIWA technical staff to install the remaining hydrometeorology stations.