The WMO’s US$5.6m High Impact Weather Lake System (HIGHWAY) project, which looks to enhance the resilience of African people to weather and climate related shocks, has so far benefited 1.4 million people, saved more than 300 lives per year, and produced annual economic benefits of approximately US$44m.
HIGHWAY has just completed a four-year pilot project for a regional early warning system to inform fisherfolk and other local stakeholders about high impact weather events on Lake Victoria. HIGHWAY is now calling for greater investment by international development partners to support the implementation of the East African Community (EAC) Regional Early Warning System Vision 2025.
HIGHWAY was funded by the UK Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) through the Weather and Climate Information Services for Africa (WISER) programme.
“The HIGHWAY project demonstrates that improved access to, and use of, co-designed early warnings has protected lives and livelihoods and improved the economic and social well-being of the communities living in the Lake Victoria Basin,” said WMO secretary-general, Petteri Taalas. “WMO hopes that this is a model that can be replicated in other parts of Africa and, indeed, the world.”
On average, 3,000 to 5,000 deaths occurred on Lake Victoria each year due to navigation accidents caused by strong winds and waves. Prior to the HIGHWAY project, no regional, operational early warning systems existed to protect the health and safety of those dependent on the lake.
Loss of life has been minimized by improved regional cooperation between the national meteorological and hydrological services (NMHSs) of Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. This resulted in a regionally harmonized set of marine forecasts covering the whole of Lake Victoria, issued twice daily in English and local languages.
The project also worked through the EAC to develop a regional strategy for coordinating the issue of severe weather warnings throughout EAC’s six Member States – Regional Early Warning System Vision 2025 for East Africa.
To watch a video about the HIGHWAY project’s key achievements over the past five years, click here.
To find out more about HIGHWAY, click here.