Roundup: Experts, policymakers emphasize better information system to reduce disaster in Africa

2017-09-14 15:50:33 GMT2017-09-14 23:50:33(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

ADDIS ABABA, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- Experts and policymakers haveurged African countries to modernize weather, water, and climateinformation services to promote climate resilient economic growthacross the continent.

Jointly hosted by the African Union (AU) and the Ethiopiangovernment at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa from September 12to 15, the first African Ministerial Conference on Meteorology(AMCOMET) Forum envisages building consensus on modernizinginformation services in Africa's meteorology sector.

According to figures from the World Bank, the economic cost ofrecorded weather-related disasters in Africa in the last 20 yearsis estimated at 10 billion U.S. dollars. The Bank further projectedsuch forms of disasters to increase in frequency and intensity,mainly due to the increasing climate variability across theglobe.

Representatives from various African countries, academia,private sector leaders, and international organizations, who areattending the forum, argued that capacity building endeavors wouldhelp as an impetus for long-term disaster risk management andclimate resilient development in the continent.

Josefa Sacko, AUC Rural Economy and Agriculture Commissioner,also stressed the importance that better policies and strategieshave to further enhance access to information about forecastingweather and climate conditions.

Over 2,000 natural disasters, the majority of which resultedfrom drought-related famine, have killed more than 880,000 andaffected 460 million people in Africa since 1970, according to theAU.

Floods are most frequent, accounting for 42 percent of economicdamages by contrast, while droughts affect 78 percent of thepopulation, it was indicated.

Experts and policymakers, who are taking part at the continentalforum in Addis Ababa, argued that the need for comprehensive riskmanagement system is the key for reducing the impact of climatechange and its adverse effects imposed against Africa's developmentendeavors.

"Unless comprehensive risk management is put in place, theserisks will draw and threaten peace and development in Africa. Thisis possible only through end-to-end modernization for hydrometservices as well as systems and services," Sacko affirmed.

Sacko also expressed the role the Africa regional strategy fordisaster risk reduction could play on the matter, an initiativelaunched in 2011 by the AU with an aim to contribute towardsattaining sustainable development and poverty reduction byintegrating disaster risk reduction into development programs.

Sileshi Bekele, Ethiopian Minister of Water, Irrigation andElectricity, also lauded the purpose of the forum, which bringstogether technical as well as ministerial participants to provideguidance on how existing weather, water and climate informationstrategies and programs can be strengthened.

"This would help to promote sustainable development, adaptationplanning and climate resilient growth," Bekele said.

He also expressed the Ethiopian government's Climate ResilientGreen Economy Strategy as an exemplary initiative to be copied byfellow African countries with regards to developing climateresilient economic growth.

The CRGE strategic plan, launched ahead of the 17th Conferenceof Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP17)held in Durban South Africa in 2011, required an estimated 150billion U.S. dollars in its quest to realize a climate-resilientlow carbon emission middle income economy by 2025.

The forum, which brings together African governments, academia,private sector leaders, and international organizations, isexpected to build consensus on and momentum for modernizingweather, water, and climate information services and data.Enditem