WFP And WMO Step Up Collaboration On Weather Data

GENEVA -- WFP and the World Meteorological Organisation are stepping up collaboration on climate and weather data, boosting the amount of information that the food assistance agency has available to help it fight hunger worldwide.

WFP needs to analyse countries’ food security profiles, weather patterns, crop yields and other data so it can forecast where the next hunger emergency may occur.

Speaking at the WMO-organised World Climate Conference in Geneva on Wednesday, WFP Deputy Executive Director Staffan de Mistura noted that much of the weather data the agency uses is already supplied by WMO and its members.

Under a recently signed Memorandum of Understanding, collaboration on the collection and use of data in the field will be expanded, taking advantage of WFP’s deep-field presence.

At a joint press conference with the WMO’s Assistant Secretary General Jeremiah Lengoasa, Mr de Mistura explained that complex weather data is used by WFP in emergency preparedness, disaster risk reduction and vulnerability assessment. These are all ways WFP helps communities and governments avoid, adapt and prepare for the impacts of climate change.

“Climate change is a crisis multiplier,” Mr de Mistura said, adding that in countries affected by conflict or the twin effects of the financial and food price crisis climate change makes matters worse.

Mr de Mistura knows this very well.  For nearly two years, before joining WFP as Deputy Executive Director this past July, he was the top UN official in Iraq – the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative.

“There were constant sandstorms, caused by drought and desertification. People were already suffering, from all of the problems in Iraq that we all know only too well – and the sandstorms made a difficult situation worse,” Mr. de Mistura recalled.

WFP is an active supporter of the WMO’s proposed Global Framework for Climate Services. This is a system which will link scientific information from countries all over the globe with the people on the ground who need it: farmers, local and national governments, NGOs and international organizations like WFP, to work together to help economies grow and adapt to climate change.

Severe weather, brought on by climate change, has a direct impact on people’s food security. Floods, hurricanes, mudslides, drought and other weather events destroy crops, homes, and lives – increasing hunger among the world’s poorest people.