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SOLOMON Islands joined other 187 states and six-member territories to commemorate World Meteorological Day on Wednesday this week.

The annual celebration takes place on the 23rd of March 2022 to coincide with the formation of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) in 1950.

The WMO has 187 member states and 6 member territories. Solomon Islands became a member of WMO on the 6th of May 1985.

The theme for this year’s World Meteorological Day is Early Warnings and Early Actions’.

Hon Minister Stanley Sofu said that the theme aims to feature the importance of hydrometeorological and climate information for disaster risk reduction in the Solomon Islands.

He said that the Meteorological and Hydrological Services to the safety and wellbeing of society through the various services that they provide including Early Warnings which is the theme for this year’s WMO Day.

“Nowadays extreme weather is becoming more frequent and intense in many parts of the world due to climate change. In the Solomon Islands, a lot of our communities are getting more exposure than ever before to multiple related hazards and their impacts are being worsened by factors such as population growth, urbanization, and environmental degradation.

Hon Sofu Minister for Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management, and Meteorology said that our traditional knowledge of weather and scientific weather forecasts are no longer sufficient on their own.

“With these challenges, a society like ours needs to review our conventional way of doing things and explore the options such as integrating traditional knowledge and science, the use of simple language, affordable and sustainable warning systems,’’ explained Minister Sofu.

Hence the Solomon Islands Meteorological Service has and is implementing several initiatives using both national resources, and resources from development partners including:

  1. The installation of flag-based early warning systems for outboard motor-powered boats,
  2. The translation of severe weather alerts and warnings to pidgin,
  3. Expansion of our national weather observation network with the installation of Automatic Weather Stations and Automatic Rain Gauges in strategic locations throughout the country,
  4. Partnership with World Vision to roll out community early warning systems in schools and communities.

Hon Sofu thank the Australian Government and the United Nations Development Programme for their support to the above initiatives, and the construction of new a Forecasting Office at the Upper Air Weather Station this year.

The Minister further highlights that greater coordination between his Ministry and stakeholders is fundamental to better prevent, prepare and respond to any disaster for that matter.

“We are all aware that COVID-19 has dense the challenges facing our country and weakened our coping mechanisms. If there is any lesson for us to learn from these hard times, it is important to note that the pandemic and the weather respects no borders in our inter-connected world, we need to embrace a truly multi-hazard, cross-sectoral and inter-jurisdiction approach to reduce disaster risks, address climate change and our sustainable development needs,’’ said the minister.

He said that while Early Warning for hydrometeorological and seismic events is provided by Government through the Solomon Islands Meteorological Service, it is all of us who have a role in their implementation when it comes to Early Actions.

“As such, listen out to early warnings, and be prepared to act promptly at the right time, in the right place, to save lives, and protect our assets and livelihoods for now and into the future,’’ he said.

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John Houanihau
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