Rwandan workers

Consulting in Rwanda

1 August 2011

Helen Ticehurst is working as a consultant with Rwanda Meteorological Service for a year to help them increase their range of services and users. Here, Helen explains more about her role and the project — a first for the Met Office in providing an embedded consultant.

Why Rwanda?

The Rwandan Government recognise the value of weather forecasts in protecting lives and property and enhancing national economic development. This is part of an ambitious programme to deliver enhanced services to the population of Rwanda after the service's infrastructure was badly damaged after the genocide in 1994. Like many other National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in developing countries, the Rwanda Meteorlogical Service wants to become more integral to the national infrastructure.

What's the current set-up?

Rwanda Meteorological Service employs around 50 people and, while they have the equipment and skills needed to produce weather forecasts, they deliver few services and there is little awareness of their services among the general public. They need to increase their range of services and improve public access to them. They want to establish an early warning service, and provide specialist services for the various sectors in Rwanda's economy, particularly agriculture. The Met Office has worked with Rwanda Meteorological Service before through the World Meteorological Organization's Voluntary Cooperation Programme.

What are the aims of the project?

This new project builds on previous work, helping Rwanda Meteorological Service deliver new and improved services to a wide range of users, from farmers to insurance companies and development agencies working in the country.

Where are you based?

I've been based in Kigali since January 2011, but I'm still working with colleagues in the UK, who are providing specific expertise and training for Rwanda Meteorological Services' staff.

How are you contributing to the Rwandan weather service?

I'm working closely with the Director of the service, John Ntaganda Semafara, to strengthen the organisational structure so it supports more services. This includes hiring more staff, but also means making sure that there are good managers in place and effective support functions like IT, procurement and communications. I'm also working with the forecasting and observations teams to help them plan how improvements can be made in their areas.

helen ticehurst in rwanda Helen with a Rwandan weather observer. Using modems at weather stations makes it possible to send in observations via email instead of having to call the HQ.

What have you achieved so far?

One of the first things the Met Office did was to bring out Met Office's Media Designer, David Robinson, to change the graphics used on the TV forecast bulletin (for more on this see pages 9 and 10). We've helped to set up a management team so there is more accountability and helped to improve the way observations are transmitted from stations.

What are you currently working on?

We're in the middle of recruiting twenty graduate trainees. Some of these will do a diploma in meteorology while we hope others will be trained at the service as forecasters by the Met Office College. We're also recruiting for 11 other posts who will act as support staff to the forecasting and climatology teams.

Who have you been working with?

As well as John Ntaganda Semafara and the rest of the team, I also work closely with colleagues from the Met Office in the UK, such as Steve Palmer, Met Office International Technical Co-operation Programme Manager.

What are your plans for the second six months?

To ensure the management team functions well and that all staff have clear job descriptions and know how they fit into the overall goals of the organisation. Other big projects will be to get forecasts broadcast on radio, redesign the website, and work with the service and other stakeholders to establish an early warning service for severe weather.

What does the future hold for you and the Rwandan weather service?

Rwanda Meteorology Service has ambitious plans for the next five years which should see it transform into a high performing national meteorology service. Our direct involvement will end in December but we'll still keep very close links with the service through the VCP programme and other projects.

Finally, what's the weather like?!

Beautiful! While Rwanda's on the equator, it's at a high altitude so it has a really pleasant climate which is warm and sunny except for a few big storms.

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In brief