Ease impact of climate change, experts advise
Experts in climate change have urged regional countries to put in place early actions against climate change disasters to reduce severe negative impacts that come along with it.
They made the call yesterday during a regional climate outlook forum for the Greater Horn of Africa in Kigali.
The three-day meeting aims to explore sustainable solutions to climate change emergencies in the region.
Speaking to The New Times on the sidelines of the meeting, Zachary Atheru, Programme Officer of Intergovernmental Authority on Development Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC), said that providing early actions to climate change disasters would save people’s lives and property.
“When disasters strike, that is often when our governments provide relief to victims. They can save more lives and reduce more suffering if they can act before a disaster,” he asserted.
“Why should our countries wait for a tragedy to strike and provide aid? It is much more effective to evacuate people before a flood or any other climate change catastrophe than to rescue them during the disaster”.
Speaking at the event, Albert Nsengiyumva, the Minister of Infrastructure, called upon climate change experts to continue providing early warning advisories to lessen the anticipated increased frequency of droughts and floods.
“We should also go beyond offering early warning system to providing early actions to extreme climate change,” he said.
Nsengiyumva observed that the region has either arid or semi-arid climate with highly variable rainfall. Droughts are very frequent and often followed or preceded by floods which negatively affect the food security, pasture, hydropower and health, among others.
Keflemariam Sebhatu, from Eritrea and the Programme Manager, Humanitarian Affairs at Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Secretariat in Djibouti pointed out that regional climate outlook forum should now focus more on providing early warning action to climate change disasters.
“It is also much more effective to support farmers to find alternative livelihood options than to provide food aid when the harvest has failed,” he noted.
Sebhatu stated that there should be campaigns to develop broad public awareness and management for all hazards prevailing in the region.
Ahmed Farah, Somalia’s national security stabilisation Advisor, said lack of capacity to reduce climate change hazards results into severe loss of lives and property.
“Our countries should act before the disaster strikes and establish regional response mechanism instead of waiting for external support during emergency,” he added.
The forum is also expected to develop a consensus for the regional climate outlook of the March to May rainfall season.
The three-day meeting is organised by the Ministry of Infrastructure, through Rwanda Meteorological Agency, in partnership with ICPAC.
It brought together national, regional and international climate scientists from Rwanda, Somalia, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania, Egypt, Eretria, Ethiopia, Sudan, Southern Sudan and Kenya.
It is taking place after the region has been ravaged by severe drought in 2010/2011 followed by excessive rains in various equatorial areas including parts of Kenya and southern Somalia.
Contact email: frank.kanyesigye[at]newtimes.co.rw