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Make Met a parastatal and device creative means of getting funding

By Collins Oduor | March 31st 2020
A weather station at Vurya, Taita Taveta. [File, Standard]

While for many meteorology has only meant weather patterns, the linkage between climate justice and meteorology can never be disputed.

It is from these institutions that key credible temperature and rainfall variation data can be easily found by researchers and other stakeholders.

With the uprising of evidence-based advocacy in the 20th Century, meteorological departments worldwide were foreseen to play a critical role in providing credible data on weather, not only for climate advocacy but also for various governments’ preparedness and action in key country specific sectors.

However, this has not been the case in most African countries, given the limited resources and dependence of these departments on mother ministries directives.

In Kenya, the Meteorological Department is tied to the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. Subsequently, funding for the department, regardless of its mandate countrywide, is dependent on the allocation by the mother ministry.

This causes a lot of bureaucracy in budget approvals, hence delaying, by a substantial amount of time, the planned activities of the department.

Secondly, while at the Treasury figures may read otherwise, there are many instances funding for the department has been diverted to other functions.

Meanwhile, the country heaps blames on the inconsistency of the department on weather patterns reporting.

In as much as the Met has found a way of dealing with the shortcomings, the challenge will soon grow past its capacity.

As expected, the capacity of the staff will be evaluated and one person will bear the blame and unfortunately lose their job, hence the question why deal while time exists?

The “independence” of the National Environment Trust Fund and the National Drought Management Authority and several government parastatals have seen them make strides in providing services to Kenya and the communities that daily rely on them and at the same time mobilise resources within and outside the country to supplement their work for efficiency and sustainability.

This is the line of thought that Met should explore not only for better service delivery but also to give Kenya the necessary data for resource mobilisation and climate justice.

Like the Kenyan Met department, the Uganda National Meteorological Authority is hosted by the Uganda Ministry of Water and Environment.

This situation is shared by many other meteorological departments of African countries apart from Mamlaka ya Hali ya Hewa Tanzania, Ethiopia and Somalia meteorological departments, which operate independently.

There is need to explore the option of making the Kenya Meteorological Department an institution with clear goals and evaluate ourselves with time to see areas we could adjust for improved climate information systems, advocacy and justice to citizens.       

Collins Oduor is an environmentalist.

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