via Land reform ruined weather reports, Met – New Zimbabwe 07/11/2015
THE Meteorological Services Department has said weather predictions have been greatly compromised by a sharp decrease of volunteer weather stations which were destroyed by the land reform programme.
Volunteer weather stations were mostly manned by former white commercial farmers who had been trained by government on how to use weather forecasting equipment.
These volunteers would, every day, send weather reports they would have recorded to the meteorological department for synthesis.
Presenting on the 2015/2016 agricultural season rainfall prospects at an event held to close the 2015 tobacco marketing season in Harare on Friday, Tambu Pasipangodya, who was representing Meteorological Services Department Director Dr Amos Makarau, said out of over 3,000 volunteer weather stations the country used to have, only 415 are functioning.
She said 1,532 weather stations have totally closed down, leaving 859 in existence but not submitting any reports.
“The reasons for the drop in volunteer weather stations have several dimensions because you find that one of them can be the land reform, where when the new farmers came in and unfortunately they were not aware of the procedures in terms of the submission of data as well as even the instruments themselves,” she said.
“When the farms were demarcated some of those instruments ended up not having anyone to hand over them to, so that may be one of the reasons.”
Pasipangodya said high employment over the years in some organisations which were part of their volunteer network has also contributed to the drop in weather volunteers.
“Once a person who had been trained leaves that organisation without proper handover you find out that the record keeping stops there,” she said.
“The other issue is, and I am now talking from the position when I was within AGRITEX, because there were no resources for continuous training and if a person leaves and someone comes to that station and they are not trained they are not able to continue with the record keeping.”