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Southern African states urged to expand early warning climate systems

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Sep 07, 2022 - 06:41 AM

LUSAKA, Zambia (AA) – The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) urged southern African states Tuesday to expand early warning weather systems to protect livelihoods from the increasing effects of climate change.

“Extreme weather and climate events such as severe floods, droughts, tropical cyclones and storms, heat waves and coastal flooding have eroded development gains and threaten the lives of hundreds of thousands. Early warnings are not a luxury but an essential tool in climate adaptation and this is why African communities are one of the primary targets of the early warnings for all campaigns,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

Taalas was quoted in a statement on the sidelines of a weeklong ministerial meeting on integrated early warning and early action system initiative in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique.

The meeting’s objective is to develop a regional blueprint for implementing the call by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for every person on Earth to be protected by early warning systems in the next five years.

“One-third of the world’s people, mainly in the least developed countries and small island developing states, are still not covered by early warning systems. In Africa, 60% of people lack coverage. This is unacceptable,” said Mami Mizutori, Guterres’s special representative for disaster risk reduction.

Climate change has become a critical development in southern Africa, with a 2021-2022 rainfall season which saw six cyclonic systems that brought devastating torrential rainfall with colossal damage to the region.

Mozambique, Madagascar, South Africa and Zambia are among the countries affected by heavy flooding that caused human and animal life deaths and displaced citizens while also damaging crops and infrastructure.

Gabriel Pollen, Zambia’s disaster management and mitigation unit head described the meeting as timely, especially since the country experienced a winter spell last week despite September being traditionally a summer month.

The WMO will launch Thursday the 2021 State of Climate in Africa 2021 report which will examine in greater detail the effects on lives and livelihoods.

And at the close of the meeting Friday, an action plan is expected to be produced to map out strategic interventions to enhance regional climate change adaptation response measures.

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