First Meteorology Conference in Africa kicks off in Nairobi

 BY JAMES RATEMO IN NAIROBI, KENYA

 Africa risks destructive natural disasters unless it ups its weather forecasting and metorological services to facilitate an early warning system to avert tragedies.

Climate change tracking can save lifes

 

Climate change experts have also warned that Africa may not feed it self unless it adopts new agricultural methods and technologies in line with climate change, which is currently a global concern.

African ministers in charge of meteorology  started meeting in Nairobi on Monday  to devise strategies of enhancing agricultural production in the wake of devastating climate change.

Meeting opens

Opening the five-days meeting, Kenya’s Environment and Mineral Resources  Minister, John Michuki said Kenya suffers from poor weather change monitoring and is likely to suffer more natural disasters unless there are timely interventions.

“Kenya is challenged on how to mitigate and adapt to climate change.It has continued to impact on the country’s economy and livelihoods. Droughts, floods, and landslides have occurred with the most recent floods being those in March this year,” said Michuki.

Michuki said Kenya’s policies, laws and regulations on climate change are not well co-ordinated.

“Meteorological information and products are very crucial in sociologic economic development particularly in recent years when climate change has become a developmental issue. Climate change and all underlying negative effects have emerged as some of the most challenging national and global issues,” said Mr Michuki.

In a speech read by his Assistant Minister Ramadhan Kajembe, Michuki said Kenya is developing a comprehensive climate change policy.

“At the moment, a National Climate Response Strategy and a fully budgeted Response Investment Framework has been developed. The strategy is now the key Government climate change guide,” he said.

He said Kenya suffers poor weather change tracking and is likely to suffer more natural disasters, unless there are timely interventions.

“Kenya is challenged on how to mitigate and adapt to climate change. It has continued to impact on the country’s economy and livelihoods. Droughts, floods and landslides have occurred with the most recent floods in March this year,” he added.

Early warning systems

Experts at the meeting argued early warning systems can cushion people from the impact of natural hazards such as droughts, floods, tropical cyclones (strong destructive winds), dust storms and other extreme occurrences.

The World Meteorological Organisation wants Africa to improve her weather observation networks and hydrological services.

Experts at the meeting argued that early warning systems can cushion the impacts of natural hazards such as droughts, floods, tropical cyclones (strong destructive winds) dust storms and other extreme events and also reduce disease risks to human health.

Speaking at the opening Ceremony, Deputy Secretary-General of World meteorological organisation (WMO), Jeremiah Lengoasa  said Africa must improve the weather observation networks of her national meteorological and hydrological services.

“Climate Change is resulting in an increase in the number and intensity of extreme meteorological phenomena and in a higher risk of natural disasters,” said Deputy Secretary-General of World Meteorological organisation (WMO), Jeremiah Lengoasa

Lengoasa said the African continent is especially affected by changes in the climate with the number and magnitude of natural hazards are increasing.

“All sectors of activity are concerned – in particular, agriculture and food security, transport, public health, water resources management, energy and tourism,” said Permanent Representative of Kenya with WMO, Dr Joseph Mukabana.

To address those challenges, said Lengoasa, critical information must be generated and provided to decision-makers and users at all levels.

This is the first Conference of Ministers Responsible for Meteorology in Africa and is held courtesy of the Government of Kenya.

 The first part of the Conference, from 12 to 14 April, will be a preparatory meeting of experts and partners of all sectors concerned, while the Conference of Ministers itself will take place on Thursday and Friday.

The main purpose of the Conference is to recognize and contribute to strengthen the role and the contribution of the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services to government policies and initiatives for mitigating, and adapting to, the negative impacts of weather and climate.

Decision makers

The Conference Preparatory Expert Segment will bring together a broad range of decision-makers, users and providers, drawing on their experiences, to improve weather, water and climate information and services.

These experiences include flood risk management in Mozambique, agrometeorology in Mali and drought insurance in Malawi.

The Ministerial Conference is expected to endorse high-level support to the expert-based Conference Statement from government representatives and to adopt a Conference Declaration for the development of weather, water and climate services in Africa.

WMO-its role

 The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations It is the UN system’s authoritative voice on the state and behaviour of the Earth’s atmosphere, its interaction with the oceans, the climate it produces and the resulting distribution of water resources.

As weather, climate and the water cycle know no national boundaries, international cooperation at a global scale is essential for the development of meteorology and operational hydrology as well as to reap the benefits from their application. WMO provides the framework for such international cooperation.

WMO plays a leading role in international efforts to monitor and protect the environment through its Programmes.

In collaboration with other UN agencies and the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, WMO supports the implementation of a number of environmental conventions and is instrumental in providing advice and assessments to governments on related matters. These activities contribute towards ensuring the sustainable development and well-being of nations.

KENYA’S CASE

The Kenya Meteorological Department is ill-equipped and does not cover the whole country

 The Government is spearheading a tree planting initiative involving 35,000 schools and 4,300 women groups

Six local authorities and 16,350 youth groups will also help in the exercise

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