Mauritius and JICA collaborate to boost Weather Observation and Forecasting

Mauritius: Enhancing meteorological weather observation, weather forecasting, and warning capabilities was the focus of a half-day workshop held yesterday, at Le Labourdonnais Hotel in Caudan, at the joint initiative of the Mauritius Meteorological Services (MMS) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Mauritius: Enhancing meteorological weather observation, weather forecasting, and warning capabilities was the focus of a half-day workshop held yesterday, at Le Labourdonnais Hotel in Caudan, at the joint initiative of the Mauritius Meteorological Services (MMS) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Local Government and Disaster Risk Management, Dr Mohammad Anwar Husnoo; the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Mauritius, Mr Shuichiro Kawaguchi; the Acting Director of the MMS, Dr Prithiviraj Booneeady; as well as representatives from different Ministries and departments and from the JICA were present.

In his address, Dr Husnoo stated that the workshop will further strengthen Mauritius’s existing bilateral relationship with Japan. He said that Mauritius and Japan boast a long history of friendship and bilateral relations as we share continuous financial and technical collaborations in different sectors.

He recalled that the Government of Japan provided a Grant Aid Assistance of more than Rs 430 million to Mauritius for the construction of a Doppler Weather Radar at Trou aux Cerfs, adding that the Government of Mauritius also contributed a sum of Rs 100 million to this project.

He underlined that the Doppler Weather Radar, inaugurated in April 2019, has enabled the country to enhance its early warning system and capacity to cope with and be better prepared in the face of meteorological hazards such as cyclones and extreme weather. 

Moreover, he added that it had helped the MMS to enhance its autonomy, thus contributing to better and more precise general weather forecasting.

Dr Husnoo expressed gratitude to the Government of Japan for its unflinching support, commitment and dedication to help Mauritius in the field of meteorology, which will enable the country to improve its weather forecasts, observation and capabilities and hence become more resilient against such adverse weather conditions. 

He said that the Government of Mauritius is leaving no stone unturned in working towards strengthening ties with Japan to upgrade and boost the services provided by the MMS.

Speaking about the vulnerability of Mauritius against disasters, he recalled that the country was ranked 53rd in the world with the highest disaster risk out of 181 countries in the 2020 World Risk Report. Hence the need, he underlined, to improve our capacity in meteorological observations and analysing of data for better forecasts.

For his part, Ambassador Kawaguchi said that Japan and Mauritius are both island countries and have common concerns over natural disasters. “There are many things that Japan can cooperate on disaster risk reduction and management. This technical cooperation project through JICA is one example that showcases an achievement. More positive results from the project are expected to come very soon”, he added.

Ambassador Kawaguchi observed that Mauritius is further facilitating its disaster risk reduction efforts by establishing an Early Warning System. He stated that Mauritius is expected to act as a driving force and an example to promote investment in disaster risk reduction in the region.

As for Dr Booneeady, he said that Mauritius must enhance its meteorological observation networks, weather forecasting and warning capabilities since it is one of the highly vulnerable small island states to hydro meteorological hazards.

Technical cooperation by JICA

In 2019, Japan’s Grant Aid installed the Doppler Weather Radar on top of the Trou Aux Cerfs.

In order to utilise the weather radar effectively, the Government of Japan decided to implement a subsequent technical cooperation project upon the request of the Government of Mauritius. 

The project aims to improve the MMS’s technical skills in the operation/maintenance of surface/radar observation, radar/satellite data analysis, forecasting/warnings, and information dissemination to the stakeholders as well as to the general public in Mauritius. The JICA expert team and MMS’s staff have collaboratively implemented the project since 2019.

The project started in May 2019, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, which began in early 2020, in-person technical training was suspended for about two years until 2022. Some activities were continued through online meetings and training, and the JICA experts resumed their activities in Mauritius in February 2022. 

In May 2022, the Ministry of Local Government and Disaster Risk Management and JICA signed an extension of the project for another two years so as to implement the remaining activities.

The project comprises three phases. Phase 1 is for preparation and analysis, phase 2 is for test operation and reviewing, and phase 3 is for actual operation and monitoring.