Written by Daniel Nyirenda in Nairobi, Kenya
Thursday, 15 April 2010
World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) Wednesday called on African governments to collaborate to ensure that there is adequate accurate information regarding weather and climate in the region.
WMO Secretary General Michel Jarraud and Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union Commission Tumusiime made the appeal at a joint press briefing in Nairobi, Kenya, Wednesday ahead of the first ever meeting of cabinet ministers responsible for meteorology in Africa.
The ministerial meeting which starts Thursday is aimed at making recommendations towards solving various challenges affecting the gathering of accurate information about weather and climate in Africa.
Besides, the conference aims to encourage experts to brainstorm and come up with concrete recommendations to improve recognition of weather and climate services by African governments.
According to Jarraud, Africa faces the challenge of insufficient density of observation of weather and climate, lack of human resource in meteorological departments in countries, and difficulties in translating weather data into various predictions and warnings that would specifically serve various sectors in societies.
The sectors include food security and agriculture, health, transport and fishing, just to name a few.
“Africa is a continent which has been severely hit by climate change in terms of temperature, precipitation, more or less precipitation translating in high risk of drought and floods, but also in unpredictability of weather,” he said.
He said traditional knowledge of weather was changing among African farmers because of “human induced climate change”, adding the climate change was affecting every sector of life, and in worse cases, food security.
Her stated the conference is historical because it is the first time in 60 years that WMO has organised a conference for ministers responsible for meteorology not only in Africa by on in the whole world.
Jarraud said between 220 230 participants have been participating in the first expert phase of the conference since Monday to come up with a draft statement that would be endorsed by ministers.
On her part, Peace said the theme of the conference is “investing in weather ad climate services and for development”.
She said African governments should look at money budgeted for meteorology not as an expense, but an investment.
Various experts, who include meteorologists, geologists, economists, agriculturalists, and bankers, have been meeting since Monday where they, among other things, observed that Africa has been severely hit by impacts of climate change because of poverty.
More than 30 ministers are expected to attend the conference, and according to the list of dignitaries, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Energy Ephraim Chiume will represent Malawi.