ReHCONS Workshop: Connecting West Africa’s Meteorological and Hydrological Services in a Regional Observation Network
From 22-24 January, 2015, the WASCAL Competence Center in Ouagadougou held a workshop to discuss the set-up of a Regional Hydro-Climate Observation Network (ReHCONS) in West Africa for long-term climate data collection and analysis. Aside from representatives of WASCAL, the workshop was attended by the directors and representatives of the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHS), as well as those of universities and research institutions from the WASCAL member countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Togo. WASCAL seeks to improve the quality of the information provided by the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services of the member countries by connecting regional partners in a hydro-meteorological data collection and infrastructure network process.
Currently, the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NHHS) face many challenges to maintain their data collection stations and to provide conclusive meteorological and hydrological data. The network density of the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services is low in many West African countries and below standards recommended by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Frequent failures in equipment lead to gaps in the data records. The NMHS stated problems concerning data archiving, quality control and analysis including deficiencies in staff number (mostly affected by personnel retirement) and capacity building.
Dr. Laurent Sédogo, Executive Director of WASCAL, stressed the importance of working together in the effort to combat climate change: “It is only together that we can handle the issue of climate change. Not every single country has the scientific capacity, the human capacity, and the technical capacity to tackle climate change. For the northern countries climate change may be a scenario of the future, but we in West Africa, we already live the reality of climate change.” “WASCAL aims to assess, connect and enhance the existing national observation networks”, explains Dr. Boubacar Barry, director of the WASCAL Competence Center. “Such cooperation would benefit all participants.” WASCAL will provide the networks with a number of stations to fill the gaps in the network. Training of staff members will further contribute to a successful running of the stations. WASCAL’s data infrastructure will serve as a shared dissemination platform. Based on the data provided by the national services, WASCAL in return will be able to improve models, climate change scenarios and offer climate services to stakeholders in the West African region.
The workshop followed two regional workshops organized by WASCAL in August 2010 during which the directors and representatives of the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services presented the history and the current situation of their respective organisations, on tasks, weaknesses and strengths as well as their expectations of how WASCAL can support and strengthen the West African observation networks on climate and water resources. “Following up with the results from the workshops in 2010, we established a timeline and agreed on a communique to outline the further steps towards the establishment of the Regional Hydro-Climate Observation Network. Another important result was the drafting of a joint Data Sharing Policy, which regulates the rights and regulations concerning data exchange” summarised Dr. Mouhamadou Bamba Sylla, Coordinator of the WASCAL Observation Networks.
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