Govt. and partners prepare for drought

A workshop centered on drought was conducted by the Samoa Meteorological Office recently in partnership with the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme and the International Federation of Red Cross. 

The one-week workshop brought together stakeholders and members of the various community sectors, where they were presented information on how to best prepare themselves for a drought. 

“We are trying to develop a new product looking at graphs and how we can advise sectors, stakeholders and the community on what to expect,” Acting Assistant C.E.O., Tile Tofaeono said. 

“Three days were based on refreshing our knowledge on the drought tool – called a scopic - tool that can analyse the rainfall data we collect from all our centres. 

“We developed a year watch bulletin – which will be delivered to sectors especially the vulnerable sectors – like the Samoa Water Authority, the Agriculture department and Red Cross because they are the ones who give these bulletins out to the communities.”

The weather office has identified four types of droughts, which are meteorological (when rainfall is below the 10 percentile point and is to do with atmosphere and rain), agricultural drought, hydrological drought and social economical drought. 

“Drought can be associated with the El Nino oscillation, but it wasn’t the case when we analysed the data and there were some La Nina phase causing drought. Frequent droughts last for about one month or two months,” Tile said. 

“From the climate services, we look at monthly and three-monthly rainfall, and we are trying together a bulletin for the general public on what to expect during a drought or when there is rainfall deficit.”

Tile said workshop participants gave positive and constructive feedbacks on how to improve the bulletin, before the first one is released next this month.  

“One of the things we’ve tried to do is to pull in the media as well. How effective will our meeting be if people do not know about it?”

He said one of the challenges facing various ministries is the staff turnover, especially project coordinators. 

 “I think it’s the turnover of how each ministry operates, and how people move from one job to another because it leaves that gap. In the climate projects we have appointed a coordinator in that project, and once it’s completed they just look for another job. So that’s a challenge for us.” 

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