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As part of the effort to tackle the impacts of climate change and other environmental related-problems in the region, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has urged the member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to support the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) of the regional body.
The WMO Secretary-General, Prof.Petteri Taalas, who spoke at the opening session of a 4-day ECOWAS conference of NMHSs at the experts segment on Tuesday in Abuja, said the plea is in recognition of the high vulnerability of the region’s population, environment and socio-economic activities to weather and climate.
Represented by Dr. Ernest Afiesimama, Taalas said the increasing impacts of climate change poses imminent danger to human well-being and development pathways in Africa where the resources and capacity to respond are limited.
“This poses a serious challenge to social and economic development, particularly because the economies of most African countries depend on climate-sensitive sectors. Furthermore, African countries lack the capacity and resources to address the multiple facets of the climate change.
“It therefore requires governments and development partners to support NMHSs in Africa to address weather, climate, water and related environmental issues that affect Africans who live in areas that are prone to droughts, floods and famine or disease outbreaks, ” he said.
The secretary-general noted that the conference was timely as it would address the challenges posed by climate change in the region.
According to him, the current climate crisis plaguing Africa may offer a window of opportunity if rightful solutions are out in place with the ability of building both the social and physical resilience of societies.
“Iives and livelihoods can be preserved and improved if climate-smart policies are put in place,” he said.
The Minister of Transportation of Federal Republic of Nigeria , Rotimi Amaechi, said the challenges of climate change call for improved early warning system as a means of reducing the vulnerability of people and infrastructure as well as means of livelihood.
“We need to make our agricultural practices climate-smart and infrastructural development climate-resilient. As you finalise discussion on ECOWAS Meteorology programme document for presentation to the honourable ministers for adoption in the next three days , I therefore urge you to ensure that these weather and climate-related issues that threaten lives and constitutes impediments to the rapid economic development of our sub-region are adequately addressed,” Amaechi remarked.
Also speaking, ECOWAS Commissioner in-charge-of agriculture, Tchambakou Ayassor, listed inadequate funds, lack of document and reliable data as factors militating against tackling the climate menace in the region.
He thanked the ministers, directors, partners and Switzerland for their efforts in upgrading the meteorology network in the region.