Program to Support South Asia Regional Development in
Operational Forecasting and Service Delivery









South Asia is highly prone to cyclones, monsoon  rainfall variability associated  extreme events,  and other severe  weather events, causing major societal impacts. In the past two decades, 3 out of 5 South Asians- more than 1.2 billion people- have been affected by at least one weather-related disaster. The social and economic costs  of such hazards have been staggering. Between 1990 and 2020, a total of 1408 natural disasters  have been reported in the South Asia region, which affected over 1.8 billion people and led to 541,245 deaths  and close to US$ 213 billion in damages.  Investments in hydrological, weather, and climate related services (or ‘hydromet’ services) and disaster early warning systems will be critical in saving lives and assets as well as strengthening the resilience of vulnerable communities. International experience suggests  that for every dollar invested in strengthening hydromet services, the estimated benefits are manifold, up to US$ 10.

The South Asia Hydromet Forum one (SAHF I) brought into focus the importance of quality delivery of weather, water and climate services and early warning as well as the need for regional collaboration and innovation. SAHF II laid the groundwork for such regional cooperation and designed a program to address SAHF priorities which is administered by RIMES.

SAHF III expanded on the SAHF I & II – which focused on service delivery, regional collaboration, and innovation- through adoption of a climate/ early warning information value chain approach. Priorities of SAHF are to iteratively strengthen key elements of the hydromet services value chain by bringing together a wide range of public, academic and private institutions, with capacity enhancement aligned to these requirements by adopting a demand and context driven approach that leverages regional actions while addressing differential needs of NMHSs of SAHF countries.

Opening Session

Theme I: Transforming hydromet service delivery

Session 1What Users need? Customized weather and climate services that yield value to economies and communities

Session 2Making sense of Forecasts! Evolving protocols and support systems for impact-based forecasting

Session 3Catching up to the Science – Improving weather and climate forecasts in the region

Theme II: Leveraging innovations and technologies

Session 4  – Skilling up SAR hydromet – Training that leaves an impact

Session 5 – ‘Data, data everywhere but not enough to use’ – Observational systems, regional exchange, information systems

Theme III: Embracing the power of regional cooperation

Session 6 – Regional

Collaborations for improved weather and climate services in South Asia

Closing Session

SAHF Voices and Future Directions



Session Highlights

Weather and climate services are evolving to serve numerous sectors and support nations to understand and respond to climate risks benefitting national development. Investments for modernization of weather and climate services are crucial for sustainable development to build climate resilient economies. This session  highlighted SAHF‘s evolution and its potential contribution to climate resilient economy in South Asia. Speakers included high ranking policy makers, heads of NMHSs representing the SAHF Executive Council (EC) and development partners.

Key Messages

  1. SAHF is uniquely designed and positioned to capacitate country-owned mechanisms and address their hydromet service delivery needs, leveraging regional technical capacities
  2. Regional cooperation is critical to keep up with the pace in data forecasting and technology development, and maximizing investments effectiveness
  3. Enhanced collaboration of NMHSs with beneficiaries is key to address the increasing impacts of climate hazards in SAHF countries

What Users need? Customized weather and climate services that yield value to economies and communities
Key Messages

  1. Forecast based action ensures early response to protect lives, livelihoods, and assets from disasters through preparedness.
  2. There is a gap in hydromet information provided which is not fully meeting the user needs.
  3. Regular dialogues between users and providers as well as community outreach is at the core of forecast based action.
  4. South Asia has countries of varying capacity but facing common challenges, therefore, thinking and acting without regional coordination pose a risk to investment effectiveness.
  5. Research and development have to be rapidly operationalized to provide practical outputs to benefit people - livelihoods, lives - economic activities.

Key Messages

  1. Forecasts, early warning systems and alerts will need to be integrated seamlessly and need to be bought-in by authorities to result in behavioral changes and individual/ community level actions.
  2. Access to fine resolution forecasts is of utmost importance since they are needed by sectors for transformation into useful advisories at sub-national and sub-provincial and local levels.
  3. To ensure operational integration of hydromet information within development sectors there is a necessity to bring together all stakeholders in a co-production model.

Key Messages

  1. Regional mechanisms to be leveraged to address critical observation gaps to maximize advantages for improving forecast skill and to improve sector level customization.
  2. Collaboration for sustaining observation systems is important particularly for ocean observation systems, aviation, and the Himalayan region.
  3. Capacity building is critical for sustaining and upgrading the observational networks to keep pace with technology.
  4. Every country does not have sufficient resources - finance, skilled manpower, computational power to cater to NWP requirements. For this reason, NWP consortium is a very important element of the regional approach.

Key Messages

  1. Emphasis on training young meteorologists, which is a key barrier in building sustained technical capacities
  2. Training should be conducted in a virtuous cycle including training needs assessment, design, organization, and evaluation. Assessment and evaluation are important to understand the demand and the usefulness of the product.
  3. The need for Impact data that must be blended with the forecast data is very important and needs to be collected from the relevant sectors. There are not many available modules for this type of training program which needs to be developed and implemented.

Key Messages

  1. Climate change and extreme events pose threats to all countries and, extension and modernization of the observation network is key to better monitor and improve warning systems to reduce adversities.
  2. Data remains at core of the hydromet and climate value chain process
  3. In the SA region meteorology is mostly driven by the public sector. Public Private Partnership is essential in this regard.

Key Messages

  1. Financing is not a major constraint- 274 mi USD Climate Action for Resilient Asia is available from UK to strengthen adaptation across the region. UK government’s Catalytic Green Finance is the largest bilateral climate financier providing finance for critical infrastructure and support development sustainable - renewable energy, clean transportation, and green development
  2. Priorities and targets for JICA engaged in South Asia on early warning, weather infrastructure and capacity building since the 1980s include strengthening of the weather observation network, IBF and strengthening dissemination of weather information to the public.
  3. 27 climate resilience projects have been approved by GCF for South Asia. GCF noted lack of an enabling environment and lack of coverage and scale, because of limited information as key challenges in hydromet service delivery and that 44% of investments in the region are for modernizing hydromet services, within which IBF and EWS are areas of interest
  4. Scale-up of successful activities into investment projects should be prioritized. ADB noted that majority of its investments are hazard-specific and for capacity building, often through TA assistance. Regional integration in this space is critical to leverage existing programs and arrangements.
  5. Regional cooperation is at the core of the mandate for the UN- the Tsunami Trust Fund initiative which was activated in 2005 had that supported the creation of regional capacities through RIMES. ESCAP is also promoting regional knowledge exchange, and with RIMES and UKMET Office supports IBF and the use of seasonal forecasts for decision-making
  6. The regional ARRCC program of the UKMO would be continued for an additional 5 years. It would focus on strengthen NMHS long term strategies, using a value-chain approach, and on enabling factors - not only investments on infrastructure, technical guidelines. ARRCC highlighted the socio-economic benefits of value chain investments, and that regional cooperation can provide great opportunity to enhance access to data- hence SAHF is a very apt framework.
  7. Progress made by SAHF has increased the collaboration and cooperation among South Asia countries, sharing resources and working together collaboratively. The value chain approach to hydromet modernization in South Asia that SAHF is bringing forward, is particularly relevant and useful as it provides a common framework to plan interventions also from the donor perspective. USAID support is particularly focused on EWS development to enhance community resilience. Gaps are often in the last mile - reaching people and linking the value chain to the last mile, particularly from a humanitarian perspective.

Key Messages

  1. There is an urgent need to invest on robust regional observational system to enhance capacities to detect severe and extreme weather events and to support their integration with forecasts systems
  2. User needs must be addressed through tailor made products- NMHSs need a platform to process the forecast data to utilize for value-addition. This can be facilitated through SCOPE Data consortium , linked to Regional Cloud Computing Network for pooling resources
  3. Impact-Based Forecasting was identified a key priority requiring co-production approach for R&D to understand relationship between hazard and vulnerability and risk, and in co-development of a Decision support system to support risk-informed time decision making by key sectors- water resources, disaster management, agriculture
  4. Capacity Enhancement in terms of training must address all aspects of hydromet service delivery- Observation techniques, forecast development, impact based forecasting and sectoral application.




NOVEMBER 15-18, 2021

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