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By Pita Ligaiula in Honiara, Solomon Islands
Regional governments have been urged to invest more in capacity building for staffs working in their respective Meteorology Service.
Speaking at the Pacific Island Media and Meteorological Services Workshop in Honiara SPREP’s ‘Climate Prediction Service coordinator, Sunny Seuseu said this is one of the challenges faced by many countries in the Pacific as they do not see Meteorology as a priority issue.
“There’s many elements of the problems with regards to getting in more students in Met. First problem is a lot of our students in University they want to do the easy courses, they don’t want to do physics, they don’t want to do mapping, only a few students go for those programmes and when they graduate the governments will allocate them to the Ministry of Education because most of the government they have education as their priority. It’s an ongoing shortfall that we have.
“One way we are addressing the issue, is by trying to promote meteorology as one of the priority scholarship areas for all the governments to at least send two meteorologists every year,” he said.
With more experienced meteorologist leaving for greener pastures, the senior meteorologist said the need to retain and up-skilling Met Service staff is very critical.
“Because the problems that Fiji is facing at the moment as well as other MET service is that all their good people have gone to Australia, they‘ve gone overseas.
“So we need a sustainable funding mechanism as well as opportunities for students from the Pacific to do meteorology and the government will have to make space for those.
“Because when we come to apply scholarship for MET we are competing with climate change people, we are competing with disaster risk reduction people and the government say oh no- we should help education, so most scholarships are given in those areas and not Met services,” said Seuseu.
SPREP Meteorology and Climate Officer, Salesa Nihmei said one of the biggest problems faced by Met Service in the region is the high turnover of staff.
“It’s one of the challenges that is faced by countries and from a regional’s perspective one of the issues we face is the turnover of staff. We lose staff that goes and the newest ones come in. We are now looking forward to the establishment of the Pacific Climate Change Centre, because through this centre, we will be able to build capacity.
“The met services needed to be provided at the highest level, otherwise the lives of people will be affected. From our side we work with our partners, the directors of meteorology in the Pacific, and the World Meteorology Organisation (WMO) as they offer a lot of scholarships and training for met personnel to ensure their services are maintained at the highest level,” said Nihmei.
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