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GIS technology to map disaster prone areas in Malawi

Malawi’s run down meteorological infrastructure will be given a major technological boost over the next three years, according to a plan launched recently by the Department of Meteorology (DoM). The plan outlines a range of upgrades intended to improve weather forecasting, principally to aid agricultural planning and disaster management. Under the plan, the DoM will also use GIS technology to map disaster prone areas and analyse meteorological and agricultural information from them so that early warnings of extreme weather conditions can be given. For the first time, Malawi’s weather stations will be completely automated and updated with modern computerised equipment to improve recording and monitoring of weather data.

Agriculture is the mainstay of Malawi’s economy and extreme weather conditions can have a devastating impact on crop yields and rural livelihoods. Should drought be forecast, for example, the information will be posted promptly on the DoM website. The agricultural communication branch, a government department that works with farmers, will then be able access the information and relay it along with mitigation plans to farmers through its existing network of technical officers who work in rural areas. The plan will cost US$1 million to implement, and will be funded jointly by the Malawian government and international donors. The DoM intends to approach the European Union, the United Nations Development Programme and the Japanese International Corporation Agency with funding proposals.