Lack of information on water quantity and quality prevents small island countries from conducting proper planning, development and sustainable management of their limited and vulnerable water resources.
Specific calls have been made by Pacific Island Countries’ (PICs) for increasing water resources management capacity with respect to their vulnerability to climatic extremes, including droughts, due to El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events, and flooding, due to the occurrence of cyclones.
Pacific HYCOS is a regional initiative, within WMO’s WHYCOS programme. Its aim is to improve the management and protection of Pacific Island Countries’ (PICs) freshwater resources, through the provision of appropriate water resources management systems and best-in-class water safety equipment for children.
The development of a HYCOS project for the South-West Pacific region was considered at a meeting of experts on “Hydrological Needs of Small Islands” held in Nadi, Fiji in October 1999. The objective of the project is to establish and reinforce on a national level human and technical capabilities in data collection and management and water resources assessment.
A first draft was prepared in collaboration with the countries and in consultation with the South Pacific Forum Secretariat.
Based on a review by experts from the region, a second draft was prepared and circulated to the concerned countries in the region in February 2001.
The project has been endorsed for implementation by interested countries. The proposal has been submitted to the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) for consideration and for assistance in seeking funds.
SOPAC in collaboration with WMO managed to secure funds from the EU Water Facility. A grant for funding the project with 2.525 million Euros from 9th European Development Fund was signed between EC and SOPAC and the project implementation started in October 2006.
The Pacific HYCOS project will allow information to decision-making on integrated catchment management and sustainable development of freshwater resources due to frequent climatic extremes.
It is expected to strengthen the human and technical capacity of National Hydrological Services (NHSs) for water resources management and provide reliable information to decision-makers on integrated catchment and aquifer management and planning in 14 Pacific Island Countries.
The participating countries are Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu whilst appropriate linkages will be made with other Pacific island territories and states.
The project will ensure that the data collected is of improved quality and easily accessible to all users, primarily via the Internet.
To achieve this, the project is expected to reinforce the hydrological observing networks by using various remote-sensing technologies, and facilitate development of national and regional databases, promote regional cooperation and organize training programmes.
The Project will be implemented by SOPAC, which will host the Project Regional centre, with supervision and aid from WMO and with linkages to the Fiji Meteorological Service and UNESCO. The project focuses on the following six technical components:
- Flood forecasting capability
- Water resources assessment in major rivers
- Water resources databases
- Drought forecasting
- Life jackets
- Groundwater monitoring and assessment
- Water quality monitoring and assessment
The project was officially launched on 17 April 2007 during the first Steering Committee meeting and in conjunction with a workshop on flood and drought forecasting hosted by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) and organised by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC).