Bumbu gets country’s first early warning flood system

May 30, 2018

(L-R) Kaigabu Kamnanaya, Assistant Director (Risk Management), National Disaster Centre, Charlie Masange from the Morobe Provincial Disaster Centre and Jimmy Gomoga, Assistant Director Forecasting and Warning from the National Weather Service during the simulation exercise. © Kim Allen/UNDP

Port Moresby, 30 May 2018 - Residents of Lae, Morobe Province will now benefit from more effective early warning of impending floods from the Bumbu River with the installation of the first of its kind early warning system in the river.

With more than 5000 people living along the Bumbu river, and vital social infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and the University of Technology, widespread destruction to lives and property have occurred during floods in past years. 

This system will strengthen Papua New Guinea’s early warning of floods and improve the country’s disaster preparedness in the face of increasing climate-related disasters.

Following the installation of the equipment  at the whole catchment of Bumbu River, a simulation exercise was conducted today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) and the Government of Papua New Guinea.

Mr Samuel Maiha, Director of the National Weather Service said: “The simulation exercise is designed to ensure that all stakeholders are clear on their roles and responsibilities when the system issues a flood warning which will be sent out to key partners in Port Moresby as well as in Lae.”

The Director for Adaptation and Projects Division of Climate Change Development Authority, Mr Jacob Ekinye said this pilot flood early warning system is a major milestone for the country.

“What is important is for Papua New Guinea to draw lessons from this successful pilot investment and replicate the system in other major rivers throughout our country. The challenge is for stakeholders to take ownership and sustain this effort.”

The Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) sees this system as a critical development in gathering climate information. Maino Virobo, Director of CEPA’s Policy Division said: “Our last hydrological data collection was 22 years ago. This system established in partnership with UNDP, NIWA and NWS will assist CEPA with envinromental data that we will use to advise other government partners. It will also provide critical data to inform development planning for Morobe Province and the country as a whole.”

UNDPs Deputy Resident Representative Ms Tracy Vienings said: “UNDP will continue to support government initiatives to ensure that communities throughout Papua New Guinea are better prepared to respond to natural disasters. With the setup of this early warning system, we can be assured that people are given enough time to save themselves and their loved ones in the event of major floods along the Bumbu river. We look forward to working with our partners to install similar systems around the country.”

This simulation exercise will also be conducted in Lae Morobe Province.

Morobe Provincial Disaster Coordinator Mr Charley Masange said: “The Morobe Provincial Government acknowledges the support of all partners in this work. The installation of this early warning system will greatly help the Morobe Disaster Office and other important stakeholders in the province to make informed decisions. To sustain the use of it we will continue to provide various administrative support where we can as part of the Provincial Government’s commitment. We will also need communities living along Bumbu River to play their part in ensuring the facility is used properly and continues to operate effectively.”

The launch was supported by the Adaptation Fund and Russian Government funded Disaster Resilience for Pacific SIDS (RESPAC). 

Contact information

Serahphina Aupong, UNDP Communications Officer, +675 7374 8724, serahphina.aupong@undp.org

Jimmy Gomoga, Assistant Director Forecasting and Warning from the National Weather Service showing the map of Bumbu River in Lae to Charlie Masange from the Morobe Provincial Disaster.
Kaigabu Kamnanaya, Assistant Director (Risk Management), National Disaster Centre explaining Standard Operating Procedures during a flood response to participants during the simulation exercise.
Facilitator Richard Measures, Hydrology Scientist from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Pressure in Zealand explaining rainfall measurements for Bumbu River in Lae, Morobe Province.

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