The New Times (Kigali)

27 February 2013

Rwanda: Prepare for Rainy Season, Meteorology Agency Says

Regular rainfall that may increase or decrease should be expected from March through May, the Rwanda Meteorological Agency (RMA) warned on Tuesday.

Antony Twahirwa, the in-charge of Weather Forecasting and Early Warning at RMA, said due to the data from countrywide meteorological stations, the rainfall will be temperate, adding that some changes may occur.

Kirehe, Ngoma, Kayonza, Nyagatare, Gatsibo, Rwamagana, Bugesera, Gisagara, Nyanza, Ruhango, Huye and Nyaruguru districts will experience minimal rain, which may decrease during the period.

Districts expected to experience heavy rain, which may increase to 400mm include Gicumbi, Burera, Musanze, Rulindo, Gasabo, Kicukiro, Nyarugenge, Kamonyi, Muhanga, Nyamagabe, Rusizi, Nyamasheke, Karongi, Rutsiro, Ngororero, Nyabihu, Rubavu and Gakenke.

Twahirwa advised people in these areas to seek advice on how to handle certain weather-related hindrances. He said the heat under Pacific Ocean keeps on reducing, which mostly causes the decrease of rain in some of the Great Lakes Region states.

RMA said they will keep on monitoring changes and provide updates.

"We have equipment that enable us to notice any weather changes every 15 minutes, unfortunately we have not reached the level of alerting people in time like developed countries do," Twahirwa noted.

He said they could have alerted people about the last weekend's downpour that left three people dead, but failed due to communication challenges.

Twahirwa said the downpour, that also caused heavy destruction of property, was a result of the air mass from DR Congo that increased as it was headed eastwards.

RMA usually communicates weather updates via e-mails, phones, the social media, webs, and the broadcast media.

On the measures to reach lay people, Twahirwa said they work with the Disaster Preparedness Ministry and Red Cross.

However, Edouard Munyamaliza, the chairperson of the Rwanda Civil Society Platform, said while radio and television are good communication tools, they are no longer suitable means of sending alerts since not every citizen owns these.

He advised RMA to consider using the Ministry of Agriculture centres across the country since they are based at the grassroots.

"Forecasts by the Rwanda Meteorological Agency have not been accurate to enable people relate their activities to weather conditions. Many times, their forecasts on TV and Radio Rwanda have been changing," Munyamaliza said.

He urged RMA to work closely with weather stakeholdersrs by sharing the information and communicate it on time.

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