On 31 October 2016, the Zambia Meteorological Department (ZMD) launched the Digitisation of Weather Records initiative. The event was held at the Longacres Lodge in Lusaka and the Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL) National Director, Ms. Indie Dinala was invited to give some remarks on behalf of SASSCAL.

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Group photo of the participants

The event was attended by representatives of different organisations and the media. In his speech, read on his behalf by the Acting Director of ZMD, the Ministry of Communications and Transport Permanent Secretary thanked the German Government for providing funds through SASSCAL, to expand, improve and modernize the weather network and forecasting system in Zambia. 19 automatic weather stations (AWS) are operational and their weather data is available in near real time on the SASSCAL WeatherNet (http://www.sasscalweathernet.org/).

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The Head of the Weather Data Section Mr. Peter Shishau (left) explaining their data management process while SASSCAL Zambia National Director (right) looks on

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Weather forecasting process being explained as SASSCAL Zambia Programme Scientific Officer (far right) Mutukwa Musole looks on

Participants at the launch were treated to a tour of the data management and archiving facilities and other Departments at the ZMD offices. During the tour, the Department presented their past and current data management challenges, which include the delay in transfer of records from different provincial and district stations. Despite the archiving facility being in existence, the records were not being systematically archived. The aim of the data digitization activity, just launched, will be to systematically organise the records according to dates and location, and label them.

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Mr.. Bupe, the Senior Meteorologist explaining the weather forecasting process

Therefore, as opposed to the current status quo, where records are still in paper format and often still being kept in provincial or district offices, it is expected that the digitization process will make weather data more accessible to various stakeholders. Through these efforts, Zambia will be able to contribute to the global weather data archives. Converting the paper records to digital data will also help the department determine the status of their weather records and to establish which records are missing. Upon completion of the upgrade of the climate data management system to CLIMSOFT, in collaboration with Deutscher Wetterdienst (DWD), it will be much easier to include parameters that are currently not provided for in the existing database.

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Part of the data archive room containing records to be digitised

For a short documentary, please click this link: https://youtu.be/r9gfcTSm9NI

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