An early warning system about impending severe weather phenomena has been described as the first and critical step in preparation for weather disaster risk reduction by any country.
The Director General of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), Dr. Anthony Anuforom made this declaration Monday in Enugu in a Keynote Address on “Reducing Climate Change Vulnerability in Africa: the Role of Science, Engineering Technology and Innovation (SETI) at the 6th Regional Conference of Vice Chancellors, Provosts, Deans of Science, Engineering & Technology (COVIDSET 2015).
Anuforom, who stated that Africa is the most vulnerable continent to the impacts of climate change, however emphasized that early warning is an essential part of emergency preparedness.
He said: “Early warning is an essential part of emergency preparedness. It enables relevant agencies, communities and individuals at risk to plan and execute necessary precautionary measures such as evacuation of people at risk before the occurrence of a severe weather event, thereby reducing exposure to hazards”.
The DG further contended that climate change ranks among the greatest challenges facing contemporary human society, especially as “hydro meteorological hazards contribute the largest proportion to worldwide natural disasters that threaten human lives and wellbeing”, stressing that it also “undermines sustainable development efforts of governments”.
He explained that although climate change is a global challenge, Africa remains the most vulnerable continent in the world to its impact because while the human systems are highly exposed to extreme weather, the adaptive capacity is low. Other contributory factors to the vulnerability of Africa, according to the DG are weak economic and technological power, lack or inadequate Early Weather Warning Systems, (EWS) and poor logistical infrastructure.
“Other sociological issues such as local traditional and religious beliefs may also be contributory factors. The weak economy of most African countries also slows down the speed of recovery after the occurrence of weather disaster and makes the process of post-disaster rehabilitation and reconstruction more difficult”, he lamented.
The DG listed agriculture in Africa as among the most vulnerable sectors to climate change in the world, lamenting that the implication of this is that “the overall economic development of Africa is highly vulnerable to climate change”.
He further noted that it was not all doomsday though, as the objective of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)’s Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) is to provide a global mechanism for better management of climate risks by ensuring the provision of adequate science-based climate information and incorporating same into policy formulation and decision making.
Since climate scientists predict that in the years ahead, climate change is likely to amplify existing risks and create new ones for natural and human systems, the DG said it is expedient to mainstream vulnerability reduction strategies and action for the implementation of post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals for Africa’s transformation. He therefore charged the Conference to harness Science, Engineering Technology and Innovation (SETI) to “develop knowledge and technologies for increasing adaptive capacity and reducing vulnerability in Africa”.
The conference was attended by Vice Chancellors, Provosts, Deans of Faculties and Professors of Science from all over Africa, including Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Ghana, Mozambique, amongst others. NCAA unveils Nigeria’s state safety policy statement