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After flood hits Freetown

…Meteorological Department assesses facilities  

September 28, 2015 By Mohamed Massaquoi

Director of Sierra Leone Meteorological Department has disclosed in an exclusive interview with Concord Times that they have embarked on a weeklong assessment of their facilities across Sierra Leone, after torrential rains caused disaster in Freetown and other parts of the country.

Alpha Bockarie said they have been working hard to ensure the ailing institution remains viable in providing reliable weather updates for the safety and protection of lives and properties of Sierra Leoneans.

However, Bockarie said the department was confronted by numerous challenges. “The department is faced with a lot of challenges; we have complained time without number for government to address some of these burning issues. Our facility at Tower Hill, which we use to gauge the amount of rainfall for the year, has been damaged ever since, [and] we are not magicians,” he said and added that his team would be moving across the country to assess facilities and recommend swift action.

The Meteorological Department was a key weather facility in the sub-region as it served as headquarters for the British West Africa Meteorological Services, which was established in 1929.

The Sierra Leone equivalent was retained after independence, which then had good capacity in weather data collection, analyses and service provision, with eleven synoptic, three Agro Met stations, two upper AIT stations scattered around the country for monitoring weather and climatic patterns.

But the facilities became derelict during years of neglect by successive governments, while some of the equipment were damaged during the conflict from 1991 to 2002.

Head of a civil Society group working on climate and environmental protection, Usman Kanu, urged that the meteorological department should be strengthened to provide good weather and climate services to end-users locally, and to fulfill their international obligation of weather and climatic data  and information exchange and services.

Kanu said he was saddened by the fact that Sierra Leoneans were not informed ahead of the 16 September flooding, which caused loss of lives and destruction of properties worth millions of Leones.

“It is well known that during the last 30 years, the climate of West Africa from the rainforest of Sierra Leone and Liberia to the sub-Sahara regions have undergone various changes, especially in terms of rainfall. This has had large negative consequences on farmers who depend mainly on rain-fed agriculture, and on the regional economy,” said Kanu.

He urged the government to provide modern equipment for the meteorological department to work effectively in the country.

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