June 24, 2015
On June 24, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a Grant Agreement (G/A) with the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh to provide up to 2.881 billion yen for the Project for Improvement of Meteorological Radar System in Dhaka and Rangpur.
The project will support the upgrade of meteorological radar systems, including facilities and equipment, and the construction of radar towers on the outskirts of Dhaka and in Rangpur.
Bangladesh is located on a delta formed by three rivers—the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, and the Meghna—whose headwaters lie in one of the wettest regions on the planet. The country’s coastal areas lie along the Bay of Bengal, which suffers from frequent cyclones. These geographical characteristics make the country prone to repeated flooding, tropical storms, and other natural disasters; in 1991, nearly 140,000 people lost their lives to a cyclone, while the 2004 floods did an estimated 220.0 billion yen worth of damage. In addition to basing weather forecasts on data collected through ground observations, upper-air observations, and meteorological radar measurements, the Bangladesh Meteorological Department is working with disaster preparedness agencies such as the Flood Forecasting and Warning Center and the Disaster Management Office to provide and communicate critical flood forecasting information to related government agencies and the media. There are five meteorological radar systems located throughout the country, two being conventional radar systems installed in Dhaka and Rangpur. In operation for nearly fifteen years, those two radar systems suffer from deterioration, resulting in shutdowns due to breakdowns, decreased measurement accuracy, electromagnetic interference caused by environmental changes stemming from advancing urbanization, and other impediments to meteorological observation and forecasting work. The Dhaka radar system is responsible for measurements covering the capital region as well as nearly all of the nation’s territory, while the Rangpur radar system plays the critical role of watching for rainfall in neighboring India and storms moving in from the northwest. It is important that these stations continue to reliably provide weather observations and forecasting information.
Artist's rendering of the radar tower building
Since 2005, JICA has supported upgrades to meteorological radar systems in Bangladesh from conventional systems to Doppler systems through the Project for the Improvement of the Meteorological Radar System at Cox's Bazar and Khepupara and the Project for the Establishment of the Meteorological Radar System at Moulvibazar. This project will convert all meteorological radar systems into Doppler systems. The change is expected to improve measurement capacity in terms of wind direction, wind speed, and rainfall intensity, and provide more accurate warning information and early communications, which will in turn improve the measurement capacity for the nation as a whole. Ultimately, the upgrades are expected to reduce the damage Bangladesh suffers from cyclones and other severe weather patterns as well as from floods by supporting the timely initiation of disaster response initiatives, evacuation support, and other such measures.
Finally, in addition to financial assistance, JICA implemented the technical cooperation project Development of Human Capacity on Operation of Weather Analysis and Forecasting between September 2009 and December 2013 for the purpose of boosting the meteorological capacity at the Bangladesh Meteorological Department. The technical personnel who receive training over the course of that project will handling the information from the Doppler radars set up during the current project, which is expected to result in more effective meteorological observations and forecasting work.