Lilongwe, The Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DCCMS) has trained 14 meteorologists in lightning detection system to operate the new system the department has procured to reduce deaths caused by lightning.
DCCMs through the Green Climate funded project, Scaling up the Use of Modernized Climate Information and Early Warning systems (M-CLIMES) has installed eight lightning detection sensors across the country to detect lightning and thunder.
Speaking in Lilongwe on Friday, DDCCMS Deputy Director for Engineering and Communication, Rodrick Walusa said the sensors will help warn the general public especially in the areas where lightning is to strike to take caution.
He said the department through M-CLIMES, a project being implemented by the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DODMA) with support from United Nations Development Program (UNDP) saw the need to support the government of Malawi to procure the equipment to help reduce deaths caused by lightning.
We have had plans to procure the equipment but due to high costs of the equipment we failed to procure. With the coming in of the M-CLIMES project, funding was made available and finally we have managed to procure and install in eight centers across the country, said Walusa.
The idea is to monitor development of storms when they develop and track where they are originating from and how far they will go. The sensors will then send messages to our servers where controlling officers will analyze the data and notify the authorities to warn people in targeted areas, said Walusa.
He said the installation of the sensors in the country will help other institutions that need data on lightning for different use but also will help those that want to do a research on lightning.
Walusa said the system will also help send accurate messages to aircraft operators to be able to advise pilots on weather at the station en route to their destination and avoid fatalities and shocks that are caused due to poor or failed landing as a result of weather and storms.
He added that apart from saving lives, the system will also contribute to social economic development because airlines will be paying for the information and data obtained from DDCMS.
Walusa said the equipment has been well secured as it has been installed in centers that are secure. Adding that the department will hold sensitization campaigns on the importance of the equipment so that they are not vandalized.
The GCF through M-CLIMES, a project aimed at saving lives and Protecting Agriculture based lives has done a good job and we want to assure them and the general public that we will secure the equipment and make sure that it saves lives as intended, he said.
In an interview with Malawi News Agency (MANA) at the end of the training, Dr. Dirk Brandlein from Nowcast GmbH, a subsidiary of UBIMET GmbH, a Germany company that has won the tender of supplying the equipment and system said the system will have a high impact on Malawi.
He said the system that is being used by many countries and departments such as the armed forces, traffic control, aircraft traffic control among others has always produced good results and will benefit Malawi too.
He said countries like Colombia, Thailand, South Korea, Australia, Peru, U.S.A are some of the countries that are using the system and have benefitted a lot especially in saving lives of people through using the system.
Our system is being used in several countries and its main aim is to save lives of people. For example, here in Malawi, people like fishermen, pilots and the communities will be warned to avoid disasters.
He said he has trained the DCCMS staff on special knowledge in operating the system and maintenance.
They have been taught on how to use the modern tools and that included operation of the system and maintenance and we hope that it will serve the nation effectively, said Brandlein.
He stressed that the system doesn’t need any regular maintenance as it is designed to run for at least 10 years or more.
Nothing to buy each year for maintenance and we assure the government of Malawi that the system will not give them any problems. All components should live long and that we will always be available to provide guidance whenever possible, he said.
M-CLIMES Project Cordinator, Rabi Gaudo said they are happy with the development saying it will improve meteorological services in the country.
He said the system which has cost about MK500 million will improve livelihoods of people and hoped that it will serve its intended purpose for a longer period and reduce disasters.
Gaudo said they will ensure that collaboration between all involved stakeholders is intact so that the system fulfills the project’s need which is to protect lives.
One of the participants, Paul Mughogho a forecaster at Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) said the training has been an eye opener and that they are ready to deliver their best according to what they have learnt.
He said the training and the use of the new system will help them send accurate and specific information to aircrafts and help them in their operations.
He said the data obtained from the sensors will play a big role in ensuring that pilots know exactly what is happening, where and how long.
There is high voltage in lightning that might destroy the radio equipment in the plane and cut communication between the controller and the pilots hence pilots avoid lightning at all cost and giving them accurate and specific information will help them a lot, said Mughogho.
Mughogho said storms are associated with strong winds and that pilots need to be notified of such instances to avoid air crash.
He said the old model they have been using was able to detect storms and lightning but was not accurate on areas that were targeted and affected saying the new system will improve their operations.
I am so happy to have attained knowledge on how to operate the new system and of course maintenance because I know how important the system is and how it is going to help us forecasters when sending messages that are accurate and specific to airlines which is a plus to our work, he said.
Another participant, Amos Mtonya, a meteorologist in Blantyre said many have lost lives due to lightning and that it was becoming worrisome.
Mtonya said the old model was not specific on the exact places to be affected hence people continued falling victims despite being warned.
He said the system is very good for disaster risk reduction as it will be able to detect the type of lightning, where it is taking place, where it is going and the speed at which it is to strike.
The sensors will be able to detect the storm and lightning from far distances giving enough time to send warning messages to areas to be affected unlike in the past because it wasn’t specific, said Mtonya.
The sensors have been installed in Chitipa, Mzuzu, Bangula in Nsanje, Dwanga, Kasungu National Park, Malingunde, Chileka international Airport and Malingunde in Lilongwe to help capture the needed information.
The six year project is also procuring lake buoys that will be installed across the country to capture data on water to help in disaster risk reduction.
Source: MANA Online