By Agnes Nantambi
The meteorology department has been upgraded into an Authority to independently handle issues of meteorology and weather forecast.
The Authority is a new body with a degree of autonomy to mobilise resources and recruit staffs to adequately handle issues of weather forecast.
“Previously, we had a department but it has been upgraded to National Meteorology Authority meaning it is now established by law; it has a mandate and a defined function.
It is now a new body with a degree of autonomy to mobilise resources and recruit its staffs not through the civil service structure, but the board has to go out and look for the best people to man it," explained Prof Ephraim Kamuntu, the water and environment minister.
Speaking during the inauguration of the new Board to man the Authority, Kamuntu said that meteorology services are so central for transformation and modernization and upgrading them means reaching to a level at which it can play a big role.
“If you go out in the country, all the weather stations are old and outdated; if you look at the resource base it is old but this Authority is intended to respond to the increasing demand for the accurate information regarding forecast and weather,” he said.
The Authority, he said, “will be able to save disaster because of accurate information in time; it can also save in terms of agriculture, when to plant and harvest and when to avoid disaster, and when disasters and floods are expected," emphasizing that this is a do or a die kind of exercise.
The Authority is being managed by a board comprising of six members headed by the chairman.
They include Dr Robert Rutaagi who is the chairman, Stephene Magezi, Dr Elizabeth Auma Opio, Eng Adam Sebbit, Anita Kigonya, Eliphaz Bazira and Philip Mangeni all members.
“I have no doubt in my mind,since this is a board that has been appointed after though rough scrutiny, he asserted.
Michael Nkalubo, the Commissioner for Meteorology in the Ministry of Water and Environment, said the Authority had come at the right time when the country is faced with a lot of climatic change problems.
“Meteorology services have been lagging behind operating at only 40% and we want them to reach an international standard but we expect the board to handle this very well,” he said.
The Authority was formed after a decision by the council of ministers in the East African community that meteorology services should be run autonomously way to allow them delivers affectively.
Nkalubo tasked the board to get an executive director to manage the affairs of the Authority depending on the work plane and budget and implement the objectives of the authority on top of advising the minister on how to lift the standard of meteorology services.
Paul Mafabi, the director environmental services in the ministry of water and environment, said the ministry had prioritized weather and climate change and has accorded it a separate function and provided resources to kick start the activities of the Authority and the board.
“It is our sincere hope that the inauguration of the board will strengthen and improve service delivery, this is a technical responsibility and we hope the board will handle it well,” he said.
Mafabi pledged continued support to the Board to ensure smooth service delivery and encouraged them to draw more lessons from some of the transformations that have taken places in the environment and natural resources sector so as to minimize the challenges that come with the transformation.
The newly appointed chairman of the Board cited financial, human resources mobilization and science and technology as some of the major challenges ahead of them.
“What matters is mobilization of both human and none human resource to make sure that the Authority runs efficiently and professionally,” he emphasized.