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A particular characteristic of the region is its glaciers, which are a vital source of fresh water and a buffer against drought.
In the future, Central Asia will be even more dependent on the glaciers as a fresh water source.
There is great demand in the region, therefore, for high-quality weather, climate and air quality data and for services harnessing that data.
These services are provided by the local hydrometeorological institutes specialising in water and climate sciences.
The Finnish Meteorological Institute has been supporting the reforming of hydrometeorological institutes in Central Asia since 2009 through development cooperation.
Trust in one’s own competence and the pooling of resources motivate the employees to continue their work and seek career development options in their own organisations.
Even civil society organisations have contributed by providing information at the grassroots level about how climate change affects people’s daily living and by advising people to observe their environment and instructing them on how to act in emergencies.
In its projects the Finnish Meteorological Institute has aimed to support interaction between different parties in order to harness the weather and air quality observations into higher quality services that better respond to people’s needs.
Moreover, the people who have been trained in the development projects are in high demand in the private sector, where also salaries are higher.
The greatest achievement of the projects is, therefore, that the institutes’ state-funded budgets have nearly doubled in the past three years.
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Stakeholder seminars on climate change have also been organised to uplift the institutes’ profiles. Finland is not the only donor interested in improving the institutes, and several development projects are under way, including a major regional modernisation project funded by the World Bank.