Meteorology is the branch of science concerned with the processes and phenomena of the atmosphere, especially as a means of forecasting the weather. Meteorologist is a person who study meteorology, their task is to find out the changes in weather and use different tools predict the weather. The tools help them to collect the basic information about humidity, temperature, air, pressure and other factors which affect the atmosphere. The following are the tools used by meteorologist in USA to forecast the weather; they are satellites, radars, weather balloons, automatic weather stations (900), supercomputers and computer models (AWIPS (NOAA’s Advanced Weather Information Processing. Elsewhere in Africa the tools used are automatic weather stations. Meteorology has application in many diverse fields such as the military, aviation, agriculture, Hydrometeorology, Maritime and environment and much more. However, we are going to concentrate agrometereological situations in Somaliland.
The agrometereological services in Somaliland is close to 80 years old and is managed by the department of agrometereology and the main role of the department is to monitor climate in Somaliland, including drought and flood tracking and early warning information to enable rapid response to the hazards. The climate information coming from the weather stations is channeled to the SWALIM climate experts in Nairobi, where it is analyzed and stored in a central database. The data collected from the monitoring network is used to produce regular weather bulletins, such as the Gu and Deyr weekly and monthly weather bulletins, during rainy seasons. The data is provided to stakeholders in the sector (Farmers, government Ministries, SWALIM and other humanitarian agencies), to monitor and report on climate-related disasters like drought and flash floods. Furthermore, it is used to support relief and development interventions as well as for research both locally and internationally In order to improve hydro-meteorological services, particularly flood and drought early warning systems, the department routinely carries out maintenance on all the weather stations throughout the country to ensure the equipment runs correctly and efficiently.
In Somaliland, there are data centers at the Ministry of Agriculture, water and Environment. The data centers are equipped with computers, internet connections, and other facilities, but these centers cannot perform data analysis because of lack of skill and data base. In addition, the data for agrometeorology are generally inadequate, as six automatic stations are installed in Somaliland while three of them are not working. These observational tools are not able to cover the density needed to meet the agrometeorology data needs in the country and are not modern compared to fast-growing technology, thus limiting agrometeorology activities. It is therefore anticipated that 20 automatic stations will be sufficient to meet national agrometeorology data requirements.
The flow of data to users continues to be a high requirement. Users, especially the farming community, usually request information on the onset of effective rains (to know when to plant), the length of the cropping season (to decide what to plant), the behavior of the dry and wet spells within the cropping season, and how likely an extreme event is likely to occur. The provision of this information is currently very limited. Government and farmers are greatly interested in knowing how much grain yields and crop production are expected by the end of the rain/crop season. This knowledge helps strategic planning. Genuine efforts are, therefore, needed to improve agrometereological services and make their products accessible to end users.
There are variety of indigenous agrometeorology knowledge which are still in use in the country, there is a need to explore this knowledge and improve it. Agrometeorology contributes significantly to agricultural production. However, successive governments in the past have failed to pay due attention to meteorology in general and agro-meteorology in particular. If we had the expertise and the resources, we could have collected, analyzed, and projected crop yield, pest outbreak, Tropical storms (cyclones, hurricanes, typhoons, etc.) associated with high winds, flooding and storm surges; and crop expansion in the country. In the meanwhile, Local universities in Somaliland have failed to address the issue neither of them have conducted research on the indigenous agrometeorology knowledge available locally nor conducted research on the subject matter. The Agrometereology department of the Ministry of Agricultural Development is also hampered by lack of commitment, understanding and knowledge about the importance of agrometeorology in crop production and lack of finance, skill, policy and strategy to improve the country crop production.
Furthermore, training, among other things, is vital to enhance the skill and capacity of the department, firstly, to analyze data coming from weather stations and store it in central database located in the country so as to offer agrometereological bulletins. The department also needs the capacity to issue early warning information, efficient weather monitoring and efficient assessment of the impact of extreme events and capacity to raise the standard of the some of the weather stations to automatic weather stations, secondly, the department needs to expand its services and coverage throughout or much of the country’s regions which require from the department to upgrade the skill for its staff and equipment to help reduce the impact of natural disasters, including pests and disease outbreak.
Abdirahman Ibrahim Abdilahi