23 May, 2019, Rarotonga, Cook Islands - Having a national Meteorological Service - what some may take for granted, Nauru has worked hard to achieve with rewards reaped this month with Nauru announced as the 193rd member of the World Meteorological Organization as of 16 May, 2019.
Since attending the Third Pacific Meteorological Council Meeting and the First Pacific Meteorological Ministerial Meeting in Tonga in 2015, with support from fellow Pacific islands, Nauru was empowered to pioneer a national Met Service having never had one before.
As of May 2015, the first national Meteorological service was formed under the National Emergency Service Ministry, making them a department along with the National Emergency Services as well as the National Fire Service.
Prior to this there was no meteorological support available other than that provided for civil aviation purposes from Papua New Guinea, a service which is now provided by Nauru’s own Met Service.
“It was a struggle for us at the very start. When we started in 2015 we had zero knowledge of meteorology and zero staff, we began from nothing but we had many partners who were willing to help us. We got support from the Fiji Meteorological Service, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, the United Nations Development Program, all of whom were willing to help and build us up,” said Mr Roy Harris, Permanent Secretary of the National Emergency Service Ministry of Nauru.
“We grew from one staff to a team of four we have now, and we have approval to employ six more people as of July this year. We went from having to advertise twice with zero applicants, to being a service that is now popular and receiving queries from people who want to work for us.”
The Nauru Met Service has also built itself up with new equipment that was provided from the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) through the Finnish-Pacific Project (FINPAC) to help vulnerable island communities build resilience through enhanced Met services. It arrived in Nauru in early 2018 and was stored safely awaiting the expertise to assist with installment. In December last year with the support from the Fiji Meteorological Service the equipment was installed followed by training on how to use the equipment.
“This equipment also permits us to provide special information for aviation purposes providing guidance for aircraft to land safely. Prior to this, Papua New Guinea Weather Service would submit this information to us based upon satellite imagery and readings,” said Mr Harris.
“As of 22 December last year we gathered this information with our new equipment and once we received the approval from the Fiji Met Office approving the quality of our information we have never looked back. Nauru provides this service now, based upon the readings we take every hour. That was a huge achievement for us.”
Nauru continues to reach new milestones, with the most recent one being cause for celebration as the 193rd member of WMO, a journey which began in 2015 for Nauru, upon their attendance at the Third PMC and First PMM.
The Government of the United States of America, in its capacity as Depositary for the WMO Convention, received an instrument of accession to the WMO Convention, which entered into force for Nauru on 16 May 2019.
“SPREP congratulates Nauru for their amazing achievements – they are truly an inspiration for many as through the dedication, commitment and drive, the island nation has achieved so much when it comes to their Met Services,” said Ms Tagaloa Cooper-Halo, Director of Climate Change Resilience of SPREP.
“We are very proud of Nauru, and also our collective Pacific family under the Pacific Met Council and the Pacific Met Desk Partnership, all of whom have come together to support Nauru in their strive for a national met service. This is an example of what these regional meteorological mechanisms can achieve.”
While making great strides, Nauru continues to address challenges as the Met Service is new to the people of Nauru also. There has been much work in communicating information to the Nauru community so they can understand to make informed decisions. In the beginning the staff had much to learn, yet are now empowered and confident in their ability and until the new six staff are on board the challenges remain when it comes to the work roster of the four staff.
It’s onwards and upwards for the Nauru Meteorological Service.
“We have found that our community is now happy that they are receiving weather information. We are seeing more interest and requests for our weather updates, before this there was nothing available, just the local knowledge,” said Mr Harris.
“Now people are calling us and asking us what the weather is like, even government authorities are asking us. There is also interest in the jobs we have available at the Nauru Meteorological Service and our team are very empowered and confident in working in this field having undergone much training. We have come a long way from zero to what we have now and the potential of what is to come. We can’t wait.”
Support continues for the Nauru Met Service with new meteorology and hydrology equipment soon to make its way to Nauru through the support of the Disaster Resilience in Pacific Small Island States (RESPAC) Project implemented by UNDP. Training by the Australian BoM on how to use this equipment will also be facilitated funded by the RESPAC Project.
Plans are also underway for Nauru to develop and launch a Meteorological Website, similar to that launched by the Cook Islands, with support from SPREP.
Nauru is one of the 14 Pacific Met Services represented at the Climate and Oceans Support Program in the Pacific Phase 2 (COSPPac2) Annual Program Performance Review and Planning Meeting now underway in Rarotonga, the Cook Islands from 22 to 24 May 2019.