|A technician collects data to serve weather forecasting activities in the National Centre for Hydro-meteorological Forecasting. The quality of the forecasting services has been poor due to lack of investment in weather forecasting infrastructure.— VNA/VNS Photo Trong Dat
HA NOI (VNS)— Viet Nam has so far only accomplished 30 per cent of the workload to modernise weather forecasting technology and upgrade monitoring systems.
The shortage of capital available due to the current economic difficulties mainly accounted for the slow progress, according to Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Nguyen Minh Quang.
The minister was answering inquiries from National Assembly deputies whose concerns about the quality of the forecasting services were prompted by the inaccuracy in weather forecasting and storm tracking last year.
As set in the three-year programme that was supposed to finish last year, about VND1.4 trillion (US$67.4 million) should have been spent by now to invest in upgrading, expanding and automating the monitoring system; and building data transmission and analysis capacity as well as adding computer power to support day-to-day operations.
However, there was little money coming in and it was uncertain when it would actually come against this gloomy economic outlook, according to deputy director-general of the National Hydro-meteorological Centre, Pham Van Duc.
He said part of the plan was to install automated sensors at 127 weather stations in the north, however, there had been little progress, so basic weather data collection was being conducted manually.
"Of course, this will affect the quality of forecasting," Duc said.
In the central and southern part of the country, automatic weather stations have already supplanted traditional ones in separate ODA-funded projects.
Other incomplete components of the programme include installing weather radars, setting up a national hydro-meteorological information system and building a headquarters to co-ordinate and monitor hydro-meteorological services.
Duc, whose agency was responsible for implementing this programme, said that his agency was still writing proposals to get these components into motion.
However, he admitted that due to the nature of those projects, it was harder to get finance compared to other basic infrastructure projects.
"It's because the return on investment is harder to measure. For hydro-meteorological projects, buying new devices or building new construction projects is just one aspect, but you need to invest in operational capacity if you want to see the whole system work," he said.
Funding for this programme came mainly from Government bonds and the State budget.
The programme is part of a series of efforts that aim to bring the national forecasting capacity to a level close to that of developed countries in Asia by 2020.
The total money going into the weather forecasting services in Viet Nam per year is about VND500 billion ($24 million), while in developed countries such as South Korea or Japan, it reaches $450 million. — VNS