Africa’s poor weather conditions becoming more unpredictable and costly

The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 May 2014  

poor weather11Last weekend’s torrential rain and heavy winds, which struck Sierra Leone’s capital – Freetown, has been described by many as unprecedented for this time of the year, with what should have been the total rainfall normally expected in May, falling in one weekend, destroying homes and livelihoods.

And it is predicted that such freak weather conditions are likely to become more frequent and with far greater devastating results, across the continent.

Whether this is the effect of global warming or climate change is a debate few in Sierra Leone or the African continent cares little about. There are far more pressing and life threatening problems in Africa.

What matters most to people though, are the economic and social costs of the unpredictable weather conditions, especially for farmers and the millions of inhabitants of poor housing structures.

Africa’s economic problems are caused not only by the complex multitude of factors, largely designed by people and their governments, but are exacerbated by an increasingly volatile and harsh weather and environmental conditions – all conspiring to make life almost impossible, especially for those living on the margins of existence.

poor weatherClimate change is exacerbating multiple stresses, such as food insecurity and spread of diseases in Africa, says the African Ministerial Conference on Meteorology (AMCOMET), as ministers from across the continent meet in Harare, Zimbabwe,  to take stock of Africa’s weather and its impact.

The meeting will commence on the 26th May and finishes on the 30 May, 2014, with ‘the Task Force and Bureau Meeting of AMCOMET’ refining the draft Implementation Plan of the Integrated African Strategy on Meteorology (Weather and Climate Services) for 2014 – 2018.

Boy walks in the river in Kroo Bay slum looking for scrap metal to sell. Kroo Bay, Freetown, Sierra Leone.The Ministers will also discuss resource mobilisation for priority investments to build climate related disaster resilience, including the development of a pan-African Space Policy.

In 2012 alone, an estimated 37.3 million Africans were negatively affected by hydro-meteorological hazards; a 43.3% increase in annual average over the last decade.

Is there any hope for the people of Africa, in combatting climate change? What should governments do, in terms of tackling deforestation, poor land utilisation and reducing co2 emissions?

poor weather4The African Ministerial Conference on Meteorology (AMCOMET) says that it is intensifying efforts to integrate weather and climate services in national and sub-regional development frameworks, so as to save lives and improve the livelihoods of communities.

It says that a transformative approach is required to introduce innovative adaptation measures, which will build the resilience of communities to cope with adverse impacts of climate change.

poor weather3“Every African country should be involved in the transformative development of the continent”, says African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture – Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, adding that; “supporting weather and climate services is critical in strengthening Africa’s resilience in the context of Africa Agenda 2063 on the Africa We Want”.

AMCOMET was established during the first meeting of Ministers responsible for Meteorology in Africa, co-organized by WMO and AUC, and hosted in Nairobi, Kenya in April 2010.

africa weather1As an important outcome of the Nairobi Declaration, AMCOMET was defined as a high-level mechanism for the development of meteorology and its applications in Africa.

The Second Session of AMCOMET approved the Integrated African Strategy on Meteorology, which was developed to enhance the cooperation between African countries; and to ensure that National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) have the necessary resources and capacity to fulfil their mandates.

amcomet logo“This landmark strategy is designed to maximize the contribution of meteorological services to sustainable development, by gearing the necessary resources and recognition from governments,” says Saviour Kasukuwere –  Minister of Environment, Water and Climate of Zimbabwe and the Chair of AMCOMET.

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