Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Kiribati hopes to secure funds to re-open four closed weather offices

By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS

2 July, 2013, Nadi, Fiji -  The Kiribati Meteorological Service hopes to secure donor support to re-open four of its weather offices now closed due to obsolete equipment.

Ueneta Toorua,  the only meteorologist on the island shared with regional colleagues in Nadi this week some of the challenges faced by the Met Office in providing timely weather information to its citizens.

He said the four stations in the outer islands are crucial in monitoring and analyzing data on what’s happening in these islands.

“Now we are looking for support and funding to reopen these stations, especially to get data for climate monitoring and climate analysis.

Toorua admits the weather stations were closed after the Met Office in Kiribati was nationalised. 

“Originally, the Met Office was fully supported by the NZ Met Service. When we localised the service, there was very limited funding to sustain the operation and maintenance of equipment in our weather office.

However, we are now seeking donor support o re-open these stations and replace the obsolete equipment.

“It’s very hard for us at the Met Office to figure out what the actual conditions are in these weather stations especially when there are no real time monitoring and data available from other stations.

“We have received some donated equipment from New Zealand to replace the old instruments. We are seeking more funds to buy extra instrument and transport them to the island stations.

This is another challenge as the cost of transporting the equipment to the outer islands is exorbitant.

“The government of Kiribati has committed some funds to assist with the transportation. This is not stopping us from knocking on the donors’ door to assist us with the costs.

Another of the gaps identified by the Met Office is the need to train young I-Kiribati to take up interest in meteorology and general climate service jobs.

“Our current problem is that we don’t have enough qualified meteorologists on the island to deliver weather forecasting and aviation information.

“We have engaged some graduates to work in projects with a view of confirming them to met service roles. At the same time we are looking at restructuring our Met Service to include career paths for young I-Kiribati that want to pursue a career in weather forecasting and climate services, said Toorua.

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